Movie review: "Conviction"

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

If "The Blind Side" was a bad Hallmark Channel movie that somehow became an Oscar contender, then there's hope for "Conviction," which would be right at home on Lifetime.

It's a tale of a tenacious can-do spirit rising against all odds to bring about justice. And, of course, it's "based on a true story."

Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank) is a rural single mother whose difficult childhood forged a deep lifelong connection to her brother, Kenneth (Sam Rockwell).

Kenneth is convicted of murder. With his chances of appealing gone, Betty Anne decides she will go to law school to free her brother. But first she has to get her GED.

The thing that makes "Conviction" rise above "TV movie of the week" is the same thing that ultimately makes it disappointing. There's some real talent involved here.

Swank is a two-time Oscar winner, but this role seems shamelessly chosen as Oscar bait, kind of a poor man's Erin Brockovich.

Rockwell is an amazing talent - see his performances in "Moon" and "Snow Angels" in particular. He's good here but not really at the top of his game.

Also, I expected there would at least be a dramatic courtroom appeal from Betty Anne. The actual resolution was far less satisfying.

Like "The Blind Side," it will find an audience who loves it and thinks the negative critics are off-base. I'd rather be one of the haters.


Opens Friday

2 stars out of 4