Sunday, October 24, 2010


The Movie: Conviction

The Actors: Hillary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Melissa Leo, Minnie Driver, Peter Gallagher, Loren Dean, etc.

The Dealio: In this true-story-based indoe, Betty Anne Waters goes to law school-sacrificing what her children describe as 'your whole life!'- in order to defend and, hopefully, free the younger brother she just knows was railroaded by an overburdened justice system.
Almost from the very start, we're meant to see that Kenny ('Muddy') Waters is and always was, trouble with a capital T. That's not exactly how his sister sees it, but surrounded by small town prejudices and mired in poverty and desperation, it takes a Jiminy Cricket of a friend (Driver's Abra), to help Betty Anne focus her energy where it can do the most good. I was especially charmed by Abra's throw-away line 'Hey! That's the other old lady in my class,' (Been there, been that).
People in the theater where I saw this film started crying about 15 minutes into the show, and just never stopped. While I am so sentimental I can sob until I am speechless (which Prendie would verify hardly ever happens) at the drop of a Hallmark ad on TV- but not here. More, I was appalled at the rush to judgement (no surprises there, really) and then the grandstanding and posturing that occurs- designed strictly as a sort of political CYA. Meanwhile, the hapless pawn in the entire game is left dangling by a thread. I know, I know: it is not perfect, but our justice system is the best over 200 years have been able to evolve. I am also aware that there are good, brave, smart people sweating bullets to improve things every day. Just hurry up, wouldja!?

The Grading Session: 4.71 pengies out of 5. The three main characters were all that a person-that I- could hope for: Hillary is intense, loyal, self-sacrificing as the little sister. Rockwell does his patented wild man with an unexpected streak of tenderness and his own sense of very canted loyalty. Minnie Driver gets to be both pert and caustic as the loud, irreverent heart of gold sister from a different mother. I always love it when a 'based on a true story' movie takes the time to catch us up with what happened next- although everybody in the theater gasped at the summing up of one pivotal character's trajectory. As a bonus, to me, personally, I'm sure, they included pictures of the real peeps involved.

Lessons Learned: Ain't no justice like small town justice.
Also- with all this newfangled science at our disposal, it is still possible to get away with murder.
Finally: there are simply no limits to what an obsessed, positively motivated person can/will do, if they feel their cause is righteous.

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