It’s funny to look back at Conviction and see what people said about it when it first came out. Many critics, including myself, thought that Conviction would be the film to finally land Mr. Sam Rockwell his much deserved Oscar win, or at least a nomination. Oh how the times have changed since then. Colin Firth, James Franco, Jeff Bridges and a few others came along, putting Mr. Rockwell out of the race. Shame, because he really did do a fantastic job with the role. In fact, all the performances here are particularly strong. But sometimes that’s not enough to carry a film. Sure, the acting may be great, but how is the film itself?
Conviction tells the real life, inspirational story of Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank), whose brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell), was wrongfully accused of murder in 1983. Against all odds, Betty did everything it took to free him. She got her GED, bachelors, masters and eventually put herself through law school. She did all this while raising two children alone and working a part time job. So ya, it’s one of those stories. Going against the odds, defying the rules, doing whatever it takes etc. A lot of the time the film plays out like a TV movie of the week. A melodrama in the purest sense. Real underdog story material. It takes a classic formula and plays it very much by the numbers. All the requisite scenes are here.
It’s a solid story and definitely one worth engaging in, whether you’re familiar with it or not. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t handle it as well as it could and we lose some of the emotional punch that a story like this should pack. It misses out on a number of opportunities and doesn’t quite reach its potential. That being said, this is in no way due to the acting, which is fantastic on all fronts.
Check out the rest of our Conviction theatrical review.
The disc itself looks pretty good. Visually, it carries a nice, rich look. Fantastic detail is found in almost every scene and it’s a very sharp picture. Colours look natural and flesh tones held up ok. Dialogue, being the most important part of the film’s soundtrack, is handled well, coming through crisp and clear in every scene. The score is also implemented appropriately as it helps to enhance the film’s drama. There isn’t much going on with the audio but what is here is adequate.
As for features, we get only one. It’s called A Conversation with Tony Goldwyn and Betty Anne Waters and runs for roughly ten minutes. It’s not terribly engaging but it provides a bit of extra info on Kenny’s life that the film left out and is worth a peek if you enjoyed the film.
So that just about does it for Conviction. Ultimately, the film falls flat. Like I said before, great performances, but the film itself just didn’t do much for me. I was really expecting to feel that emotional pull but it never came. It was simply just too routine, not enough context and ill contrived. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a terrible film, I’ve certainly seen worse, it’s just no where near as good as I was expecting. And it’s a shame, because it certainly had potential. You may want to check it out just for the solid acting but aside from that, there really isn’t much here that will stick with you.
Conviction tells a remarkable story with fantastic performances. Unfortunately, it's missing an emotional pull.