"A Sister’s Incredible Love"
The love of a sister for her brother knows no bounds in this unflinching yet ultimately heartwarming portrayal of the real-life story of Betty Anne Waters, who spent 18 years studying to earn everything from GED through a law degree in order to fight for the release of her brother Kenny, who was unfairly accused of a brutal murder.
CONVICTION offers a powerful mix of emotional and cerebral entertainment through its compelling core story. Betty Anne and her brother Kenny are seen as children in a moving series of well-acted flashbacks. The flashbacks depict the strong bond they formed when their own highly dysfunctional parents let them down throughout their young lives.
When Kenny is arrested and accused of the brutal murder of a woman, he goes to prison. Betty Anne becomes the one person who believes in his innocence. She embarks on a quixotic quest to free him, losing her husband and custody of her sons along the way. Through the discovery of DNA evidence, she at last can prove his innocence. One more terrible twist, however, remains en route to securing his freedom, a twist that depends on the daughter he’s barely ever seen learning to trust Betty Anne and agreeing to make her mother tell the truth.
CONVICTION could easily be well-deserving Oscar fodder this year, thanks to its impressively efficient script, stirring yet subtle direction from Tony Goldwyn, and stunning performances across the board. Sam Rockwell and Juliette Lewis are particularly good, breathing fire into their colorful white-trash roles while letting their heartbreaking humanity seep through in momentary flashes.
While there is a lot of foul language in this film, it feels organic to the characters and setting. Overcoming the movie’s moral problems are its profoundly powerful story of redemption and familial love, as Betty Anne sacrifices everything in her life to prove that her brother is innocent of the murder charges. As she peels back the perjured testimony that led to her brother’s incarceration, many of those who lied wind up feeling remorse for their actions and finally admit to the truth. Most heartwarmingly, Kenny gets a second chance at becoming a father to his daughter, whom he hasn’t seen or held since she was a baby. Now 18, she overcomes her fear and distrust caused by not knowing him to give him a new start in her life.
The movie concludes with a scroll showing that the lawyer who helped Betty Anne has since rescued 249 other innocent men from prison based on uncovering DNA evidence, providing another level of uplift for viewers.
CONVICTION contains plenty of strong foul language, strong violence, brief comical nudity, and some strong miscellaneous immorality. So, extreme caution is warranted. The movie’s strong themes of redemption and familial love, however, make it one of the best movies of the year. Please see our CONTENT section above for more details.
(Ro, BB, CC, LLL, VV, N, AA, D, MM) Light Romantic worldview but strong moral, redemptive elements in powerful tale of redemption, familial love, repentance, and reconciliation; more than 37 “f” words, plus about 20 “S” words, and three “GDs”; strong violence includes brief barfight which ends with main male character threatening to kill other man, three or four instances of violence or vandalism in which characters throw objects and fight with police, though the police are ultimately shown as corrupt, and young child brother and sister shown fighting as children cheer; no sexual activity; upper and rear male nudity in one scene when male lead character strips shirt off in a bar while drunk, then he drops his trousers and bares his rear end momentarily as a joke; main female works as a bartender with casual drinking shown around her and main male character gets drunk on a couple of occasions, which leads to bad behavior; light smoking shown on a couple of occasions; strong miscellaneous immorality includes perjury forces man to be imprisoned unfairly for 18 years, bad attitude shown by male lead, who is seen as often arrogant and drunk and willing to break minor laws, including himself and young sister committing petty thievery and breaking into a home, many dysfunctional family moments, though the entire point of the movie is that, even with no good examples, people can rise above their immoral family or personal pasts to express true love through noble actions.
CONVICTION is an emotionally stirring, brilliantly acted true-life story of a woman who sacrifices everything to become a lawyer and save her brother from an unfair prison sentence. A moving series of well-acted flashbacks shows Betty Anne and Kenny Waters forging a strong bond when their highly dysfunctional parents let them down throughout their young lives. Then, Kenny is arrested and falsely accused of a woman’s brutal murder. He goes to prison, but Betty Anne becomes the one person who believes in his innocence. She embarks on a quixotic quest to free him, losing her husband and custody of her sons along the way.
CONVICTION has too much strong foul language and depicts a lot of dysfunctional behavior. However, the core of the story is a profoundly powerful tale of redemption and familial love, as Betty Anne sacrifices everything to prove her brother is innocent of the murder charges. Also, when she confronts the lies that helped send Kenny to jail, people feel remorse and admit to the truth. Finally, Kenny gets another chance to becoming a father to his teenage daughter, whom he hasn't seen since she was a baby.