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Conviction (2010)



Average Rating: 6.2/10
Reviews Counted: 179
Fresh: 120 | Rotten: 59

Less compelling -- and more manipulative -- than it should be, Conviction benefits from its compelling true story and a pair of solid performances from Swank and Rockwell.


Average Rating: 6.4/10
Critic Reviews: 38
Fresh: 24 | Rotten: 14

Less compelling -- and more manipulative -- than it should be, Conviction benefits from its compelling true story and a pair of solid performances from Swank and Rockwell.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 32,412

My Rating

Movie Info

CONVICTION is the inspirational true story of a sister's unwavering devotion to her brother. When Betty Anne Waters' (two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank) older brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) is arrested for murder and sentenced to life in 1983, Betty Anne, a Massachusetts wife and mother of two, dedicates her life to overturning the murder conviction. Convinced that her brother is innocent, Betty Anne puts herself through high school, college and, finally, law school in an 18 year quest to



Pamela Gray

Feb 1, 2011


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All Critics (179) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (120) | Rotten (59) | DVD (7)

Traditional and unambitious it may be, but 'Conviction' is a good tale persuasively told.

January 12, 2011 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a solid if somewhat straightforward story of sacrifice and allegiance.

October 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Tony Goldwyn directed a cast that ranges from the excellent (Minnie Driver as a fellow attorney, Melissa Leo as a crooked cop) to the laughable (Juliette Lewis as a trashy woman whose perjured testimony helps put the brother away).

October 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What makes Conviction worth seeing is its depiction of a self-immolating crusader.

October 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In the hands of Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell and a strong supporting cast, this earnest film manages to tug a few heartstrings and say something important in the process.

October 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Swank] fails to ever really make us care about, let alone buy into, Betty Anne as a human being.

October 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Conviction is way too routine, not fleshed out enough and rather uninspired. I'd recommend it for a watch just for the performances alone but that's it.

November 9, 2013 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

It has pretty much every cliche for Oscar season you're likely to see.

November 5, 2013 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

'Conviction' seldom fails to win on appeal.

May 26, 2013 Full Review Source: The Patriot Ledger
The Patriot Ledger

Hilary Swank won her two Oscars for other films, but this may be her best performance yet.

February 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Nation
Movie Nation

Hilary Swank delivers in this compelling tale of a woman who attends law school to prove her brother's innocence in court.

January 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Big Hollywood
Big Hollywood

What the film ends up being is a by-the-numbers procedural that takes us from Kenny's arrest to his sister trying to get him free to the inevitable outcome.

September 22, 2012 Full Review Source:

It's based on a true story, which is a very inspiring story, sure ... but as a drama, it just isn't interesting.

June 15, 2012 Full Review Source: Filmwell

La historia tiene todos los elementos de esas típicas películas para televisión basadas en hechos reales. Pero las estupendas actuaciones de Hilary Swank y Sam Rockwell la convierten en una opción digna y emotiva.

December 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

full review at Movies for the Masses

June 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses
Movies for the Masses

Jaw set resolutely forward but upper lip aquiver with emotion, Hilary Swank plays a remarkable crusader for justice in this stirring true-story drama.

May 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Movie Talk
Movie Talk

I can see why director Tony Goldwyn has been drawn to the story for over a decade. I'm just not sure the end result completely works.

April 5, 2011 Full Review Source: HitFix

This Lifetime movie is a really good Lifetime movie, cut thick like a fried potato wedge at Chili's, dipped in Academy Award-flavored dressing and, dang it, kind of moving. And I told myself I wouldn't cry.

April 4, 2011 Full Review Source:

It's a little too convinced of its own righteousness and doesn't see enough need for character doubt or drama. In many spots in fact it's quite good, but it thinks it's better than it is and doesn't see any reason to make it's own case.

March 18, 2011 Full Review Source:

Conviction is unashamedly straightforward in showing how a lot of hard work and sheer willpower was able to correct an injustice.

March 9, 2011 Full Review Source: Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

Goldwyn isn't an amazing director, but there are pretty good performers in this film.

February 24, 2011 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell, the latter portraying Kenny as an uncontrollable force of nature, and also Melissa Leo, who is quietly powerful as the arresting officer, are all excellent.

February 24, 2011 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

It's a painful film, but not for the best reasons.

February 24, 2011 Full Review Source:

If Conviction had felt as edgy and urgent as Lewis' performance, brimming with surprising comedy and unhinged tension, then it would be far more enticing.

February 24, 2011 Full Review Source: Trespass

A fascinating story which has been told in a not-so-fascinating manner.

February 23, 2011 Full Review Source: ABC Radio Brisbane
ABC Radio Brisbane

Director Tony Goldwyn does a good job telling a complicated story.

February 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

Audience Reviews for Conviction

Conviction could have been a compelling, extremely moving, and heat-warming story, but the way Tony Goldwyn and the cast of Conviction tell it, it's not so gripping (boring even at parts) and compelling, but it tries to manipulate the audience to care, to cry, to cheer. But to tell the truth, it got about half-way. There is almost no history to these characters, and there are a lot of people to remember the names of, and we are supposed to hate, or love these people, but we don't know much about them, nor have we seen much of them either. The performances by Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Melissa Leo, Minnie Driver, Juliette Lewis, Baliee Madison, and Tobias Campbell are what keep this film above water. See this film for the extraordinary performances, if for nothing else.
January 5, 2012
Raymond Wieser

Super Reviewer

Sometimes you swear that you've seen a film before - Conviction is like that... where have you seen this type of plot boiler before? The kind of film that preaches rather than educates and tries to get by on the "true story" aspect instead of giving us something riveting and original to chew on. Not that the story itself isn't compelling, but the whole "woman forsakes all (including her family) to attempt to free her brother" (umm, isn't he family... ok, so she forsakes her husband and neglects her kids (who still love and cherish her as portrayed in several Hallmark moments) in favor of her brother (who is ying to her yang as shown in several childhood flashbacks) is simply so unbelievable and trite that it makes your teeth hurt.

Did I mention that this film also tries to rely on star power? Hillary Swank takes the lead as the sister of a convicted murderer. Sadly she doesn't do a lot of heavy lifting here, but I suppose she is sincere enough, though hemmed in by the aforementioned plodding and overripe plot. She does well at setting her jaw and showing the dogged, against all odds determination that the role requires. However, Sam Rockwell is the real deal in the film, demanding your attention in every scene he's in, as he plays the "bad boy" who gets tabbed for the in home robbery and murder of an elderly neighbor.

The film attempts to heighten the drama by playing cat and mouse with the "did he do it?" question, but later fall flat as it glosses over some of the police procedural aspects, while dwelling too long on others. The courtroom scenes in which the prosecution parades a series of damning testimonies is almost laughable - I was just waiting for his attorney to object or drill holes into the flimsy narratives, but it never came - yet another example of how the film tries to manipulate and ram "the facts" down your throat, with no regard to how the hole thing plays.

The wonderful Mellissa Leo is miscast and underused as the female cop (another faux pas as she is somehow the lead investigator and isn't even a detective... oops), and Minnie Driver as the "buddy" of the film is also underused - what a waste of two fine acting talents.

The film seemed as if it couldn't decide whether it was a police procedural mystery, or a human character study - and as is usually the case when a film can't decide - it failed at both.

Still, there is enough to chew on here to give this a marginal passing grade. I was nodding in agreement at the inferred bit of human nature as the prosecuting attorney, now a high powered political wheeler dealer, tries to block the investigation - not wanting to admit that perhaps they convicted the wrong man, she'd rather defy the basic tenants of her profession "let justice be served".

The film adds a final tag that tells us that over 700 convictions have been overturned due to the reopening of cases to allow for DNA evidence. That's just swell, unless you're aware that there is a backlog of over 100,000 cases waiting DNA testing.
September 29, 2011
paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

Based on fact, this is the true story of one Betty Anne Waters who decides to get her GED, then complete college and law school in an effort to exonerate her brother who has been condemned to life in prison. Kenny Waters was convicted and sentenced in 1983 for the 1980 murder of Katharina Brow in Ayer, Massachusetts.

What ultimately raises Conviction beyond your conventional "triumph over adversity" account, is the acting. Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell are Betty Anne and Kenny, respectively. As siblings they convey a deep bond as family who have grown up together and remained close into adulthood. We see them as kids and then as adults, willingly supporting each other at various points throughout. Their portrayals are genuine and engaging. Betty Anne's devotion to her brother is the emotional connection that causes the viewer to be invested in this material.

Director Tony Goldwyn will always be best remembered as playing the villain, Carl Bruner, in Ghost. But he has also directed a significant number of TV shows including The L Word, Grey's Anatomy and Dexter. He's a workmanlike director and his comfortableness with TV often pushes the proceedings here into Lifetime movie territory . At times the plot can appear a bit simplistic in the way it unfolds. Great performances are what elevates the melodramatic script to something much more powerful. Impressive depictions from a talented cast make Conviction a film to believe in.
August 30, 2011

Super Reviewer

An extraordinary journey of how far we go to fight for our family.


This is one of those movies that is worth watching for the performances. The acting in this movie is phenomenal, the story itself is rather dull like nothing that a episode of Cold Case wouldn't provide you with.

The true story of Betty Anne (Swank) who gets a lawyers degree to free her brother whom she claim is innocent from perpetual jail sentence. The story shows Betty Annes dedication and brings forth themes of family and justice.

I only truly highly recommend this movie for the cast and the acting in it. Hillary Swank is spectacular she really is. However, Minnie Driver, Sam Rockwell, Peter Gallagher, and Melissa Leo are too great. Overall this is a movie that I recommend going at your own risk, personally I found it rather good.

Betty Anne Waters: "You do it, or I'll kill you. That's your sister and your lawyer talking."
August 27, 2011

Super Reviewer

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

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