If you liked Erin Brockovich you’ll love Conviction – the true story of a trailer trash single mum who takes on the law to try to prove her brother innocent of a brutal murder.
Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank) was an unemployed high school drop-out. Her brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) was a petty crook and bar room brawler.
They had a tough childhood with a drunk for a mother and learned they’d better look out for each other because no one else cared.
Even though both spent time in separate children’s homes they never lost their bond.
But when a local woman is found butchered and robbed the police put Kenny’s name in the frame. He protests his innocence but evidence from two bitter exes puts him behind bars for life for the murder.
Amazingly Kenny’s sentence galvanises Betty Anne into action. Though years of hard work and determination she turns from someone who never passed an exam in her life into a qualified lawyer who at last is in a position to find new evidence and maybe overturn the conviction.
If you didn’t know it actually happened, you’d never believe someone with so little going for them could pull off such a fantastic achievement.
But is Kenny as innocent as Betty Anne believes? Her husband isn’t so sure. He loves her but never liked Kenny and resents their closeness. And she’s so determined to save Kenny that she’s in danger of losing the love of her sons.
Swank is touching as a woman who finds real purpose in fighting for the one she loves even if it might mean losing everything.
She pulls off the trick of making the audience feel sympathy for Kenny even though we know he’s a lowlife at best and a brutal murderer at worst.
Rockwell gives a good portrayal of the defiance and despair of a born loser while Minnie Driver as Abra Rice, Betty Anne’s only friend at law school, injects humour and sassy determination which lifts Betty Anne and just as importantly, the film just when it threatens to get worthy.
A film in the best traditions of the battling underdog who takes on the world for what she believes in.
Conviction is at cinemas nationwide from January 14th
by Gillian Crawley