Conviction should have been a good film: after her beloved ne’er-do-well brother is convicted of murder in a tiny hick town, it’s up to his devoted sister to exonerate him, first through the system and then by going to law school and becoming a one-client attorney. Better yet, it’s ‘based on a true story”, though how accurately the film reflects the actual situation is unclear.
What is clear is that instead of delivering a touching story on familial love and dedication, Conviction is instead a predictable, tedious and cloying movie that had me ready to walk out before we’d even reached the halfway point. Worse, at no point did I identify with any of the characters in the story, a fatal flaw in a dramatic film.
Kenny Waters (the always-superb Sam Rockwell) is the redneck brother to Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank), with a constantly shifting narrative storyline, at one point showing them as young children, then as teens, then Kenny after a decade in prison, then just before Kenny is arrested for the brutal murder of Katharina Brow and back to them being young children again. It was a bit bewildering, truth be told.
Set in the small rural town of Ayer, Massachusetts, I felt like every single character in the film was an unpleasant stereotypical hillbilly, swearing, drinking, fighting and mistreating their spouses and children. With that as the setting, it was no wonder I never cared whether Kenny had committed the murder or not. The result? Conviction proved one of the most tedious films I’ve seen so far in 2010.