Blu-Ray Review: Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell Propel Engaging ‘Conviction’
CHICAGO – The incredible true story of Betty Anne Waters and her beloved brother Kenny has enough dramatic potential for any pair of talented actors and a competent director to turn it into quality cinema. The fact that director Tony Goldwyn is just barely competent enough to pull it off is off-set by the fact that he was smart enough to perfectly cast the piece, no more so than in the mega-talented leads, Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell.
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0
The story of “Conviction” is remarkable. An innocent man went to prison — a disturbing commonality in America. While most men who go behind bars under false testimony, forged evidence, or other such purely evil devices completely disappear into the system, Kenny Waters had a secret weapon — his devoted sister. Instead of allowing injustice to steal the most important person in her life, Betty Anne took the long-but-only route to get her brother out of jail — she went to law school and proved his innocence. The next time you think that you’ve done something remarkable for your family, think about Betty Anne, who changed her entire life to make sure her brother wouldn’t spend his behind bars.
Conviction was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on February 1st, 2011
Photo credit: Fox
Clearly, this is a story that would have been a film at some point. The only factor to determine was whether or not it would be a TV movie with C-list stars or Oscar bait with A-list ones or, as happened, somewhere in the middle. Swank and Rockwell do spectacular work here, the latter deserving of an Oscar nomination more than at least two of the men who got the call for Best Supporting Actor. Everything that works about “Conviction,” and the film is emotionally powerful, can be traced back to the decisions made by Rockwell and Swank. They are great.
The supporting cast is also strong, especially small performances by Juliette Lewis and Melissa Leo, the former delivering her best performance in years with just a pair of striking scenes. Peter Gallagher and Minnie Driver are more average, but don’t do anything particularly wrong.
If anyone did anything particularly wrong it was Mr. Goldwyn. There’s a lackluster pacing and rhthym to “Conviction” that reminded more than a few critics of Lifetime Made-For-TV movies. It’s just a bit less vibrant than this story should be especially with its lead performances. And that blame probably needs to fall at the feet of the director who assembled a technical team that’s just missing that personal touch that makes a film feel less like a TV movie than “Conviction.”
The lack of special features on the Blu-ray release of “Conviction” are worth noting. All that’s provided is a ten-minute interview, not even the talking-head segments that were surely created for EPKs and pieces on the cast. It’s a bizarrely bare-bones release for a life story with a lot of meat on it.
o A Conversation with Director Tony Goldwyn & Betty Anne Waters