The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Conviction | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Conviction

Directed by: Tony Goldwyn
Starring: Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Minnie Driver, Peter Gallagher, Melissa Leo
Following her brothers conviction for murder, Swank puts herself through law school in an attempt to free him.
On the surface "Conviction" seems like perfect oscar bait. It's based on a true story, has a strong female protagonist, and is headlined by Hilary Swank. To his credit, director Goldwyn never gives in to the temptation for schmaltz. You'd be hard pressed to find an "oscar clip" here, there are no inspirational speeches, no overwrought emotional breakdowns, and Rockwell's convict is basically a scumbag.
It's the latter that creates the film's biggest problem. Rockwell is portrayed as being so unlikable that it's impossible to get behind Swank's quest to free him. For most of the running time you're not even convinced of his innocence, especially when he acts so unsurprised when witnesses make up damning stories at his trial.
We never really see enough of Swank's ordeal. Her husband leaves her but their breakup occurs offscreen, one minute he's by her side, the next we learn he's gone. The obstacles she faces seem to be overcome all too easily and herself and buddy Minnie Driver seem like girls enjoying an adventure together. Replace them with Bette Midler and Dolly Parton and this could be one of those early eighties girlpower comedies.
Swank is quality as usual and should be in the running come oscar time but Rockwell is disappointing, turning in little more than a DeNiro impersonation. Juliette Lewis is atrocious in a cameo, and the always brilliant Melissa Leo is wasted in a bit part.
This isn't a bad movie, it's just not a very engaging one, a TV movie in cinema clothing.