In the DNA
This makes me smile because "Conviction" is based on a true story, the sort of which 15 years earlier would haven ended up being made as a TV movie and then ridiculed by all those who won't give TV movies a second thought. Now in fairness "Conviction" is on another level with a much better cast, acting, production values and direction that you would find in a TV movie but the underlying true, inspirational story of a sister fighting to free her brother is familiar.
Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank - Amelia) and her brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell - Gentlemen Broncos) have always been close having grown up with lousy parents. But when Kenny gets arrested and sentenced for a murder he didn't commit Betty Anne won't stop until she proves him innocent. That means despite having dropped out of High School returning to get her qualifications to then study law and fight his cause in the courtrooms.
As "Conviction" starts we are informed that it is based on a true story which starts in 1980 and as the movie scene plays out we enter a home and witness the aftermath of a killing, blood smeared every where till we come across a blood soaked body on the floor of a bedroom. The next thing we see is scenes of Betty Anne Waters in a lecture answering a question before we then see her burning the midnight oil studying. Basically what I am getting at is that "Conviction" doesn't just deliver a linear narrative preferring to jump back and fourth between periods mainly in the life of Betty Anne. It is a technique which for me can destroy a movie but director Tony Goldwyn handles it nicely as in the skipping from scene to scene he manages to establish strong story threads such as in the scene where officer Nancy Taylor comes to arrest Kenny, we quickly realise that she takes a strong dislike to him but keeps the reason why absent to make us curious.
Once you get a handle on the story threads and the skipping narrative what we get can be easily split into two elements with the first of those being the railroading of Kenny as he is sent down for a crime he didn't commit on the lies of witnesses. But the second element and the real heart of the movie is Betty's decision to basically reinvent herself and gain the qualifications to free her brother. It is inspiring and engaging as we see how much love there is between the brother and sister and it is that which draws you into this story whilst at the same time showing us their less than great childhood which lead to them being so close.
What also makes "Conviction" that little bit special is the acting and both Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell dig deep to deliver characters. Both actors take us on a ride of emotions from tears to joy and anger to happiness and both are the reason why that you don't take your eyes off of the movie for a minute. To put it simply the attitudes and detail they bring to their characters makes it feel like Swank and Rockwell could easily have been brother and sister who have been there for each other when times got tough.
What this all boils down to is that "Conviction" is a very good movie and one which takes an inspirational true story and does it justice through not just delivering drama but through Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell delivering very real characters.