Director’s Tony Goldwyn’s film is based on the true story of the brutal 1980 murder of a woman in a small Massachusetts town. Police arrested Kenny Waters, who lived next door to the victim, and convicted him based on an ex-girlfriend’s testimony. Determined to prove his innocence, Waters’ sister Betty Anne put herself through law school so she could win her brother’s freedom. Hilary Swank takes Betty Anne’s gritty New England determination between her teeth and doesn’t let go until her beloved brother (played by Sam Rockwell) is free. Goldwyn and screenwriter Pamela Gray construct a narrative that elegantly blends present-day action with flashbacks to the siblings’ hardscrabble rural childhood. The movie compresses many of the details of Betty Anne’s 18-year struggle but portrays its emotional toll in nicely elliptical ways. As the story shifts from the Waters’ background and into the legal realm, it occasionally betrays the TV origins of its director and screenwriter, striking an occasional promotional chord. But Conviction is held aloft by superlative acting. It’s an inspiring story about hard-won justice and a call to awareness about the human cost of a flawed justice system.
Director: Tony Goldwyn
Writer: Pamela Gray
Producer: Andrew Sugerman
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Hilary Swank, Juliette Lewis, Minnie Driver, Clea DuVall, Bailee Madison, Peter Gallagher, Melissa Leo and Ari Graynor