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Conviction (2010) Print E-mail
Thursday, 17 February 2011
Image“Conviction” is a bit of a “I can’t make up my mind about it” film.  It has its great moments, its good moments and its not so good moments.  Still, the impact of the story is there and the cast does a tremendous job of giving the audience a real sense of the time.

The film is supposed to be about the story of Betty Anne Waters, a rural housewife with a brother in jail for a crime that he didn’t commit.  In the early 1980s, Kenny Waters was convicted of brutally stabbing and murdering a neighborhood woman.  The always close relationship between Betty Anne and Kenny provides for some tear-jerker moments.  It also is the basis for the film’s title – Conviction.  Betty Anne is determined to prove Kenny’s innocence and right a terrible injustice.

I’ll admit that the story does sound like a basic Lifetime cable movie.  However, the powerful performances are what keep this story from falling by the wayside.  Hilary Swank’s portrayal is Betty Anne is emotional.  She puts forth all the passion needed to be convincing.  These are the types of roles she was born to play.

Betty Anne loses her family in her struggle to save her brother.  She takes herself through community college and bachelor’s degrees in order to make it to law school.  Meanwhile she takes a job at a bar to make tuition money.  On more than one occasion we see her push through obstacles and hopelessness.

The story has some storytelling problems.  There are numerous dull and on many occasions almost useless flashback sequences.  There are even a few occasions in which the audience isn’t sure of whether or not they are in the present or a flashback as the timeline follows too close.  Other moments in the film are more about waiting and twiddling your thumbs for an outcome that we already know is coming.  And that may be the ultimate issue with the film.
The film is billed as an inspirational true story.  That takes any of the suspense that might have been out of the experience.  We know that Kenny is innocent and that he is going to get out of prison.  That almost makes the how unimportant.  If this were a cable movie then he most certainly would have turned out to be guilty and Betty Anne wasting her entire life to prove innocence for a guilty man.  Thankfully or not, this is not the case here.  We watch as Betty Anne struggles with the law and tries to find evidence that almost certainly was destroyed a decade earlier.  See, at the time of Kenny’s conviction there was no such thing as DNA testing.  Kenny went to jail simply because his blood type match the blood type found at the scene.  Seriously, how many have O-type blood?  It boggles the mind how people could be found guilty on such evidence.

The story is truly inspirational, but were it not for the performances, particularly Hilary Swank, then this film would have been better served in the form of a documentary.  Of course the film does have its “Hollywoodize” moment.  No where in the film or in the captions are the film do they tell you that the real Kenny Waters died a mere six months after his release from prison in an accident.  Personally I would have put that bit of information in as a sad twist of fate.  However, I’m sure the filmmakers thought it would weaken the conviction point of the story.

In terms of video quality, “Conviction” comes to Blu-ray with a suitable 1080p, AVC encode at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  This image transfer is void of the worst defects, but it still remains ultimately forgettable.  However, while watching the film you will not give poor image quality a second thought.  The image remains largely lifelike.  There are no fancy color schemes or lighting effects.  The image is natural and rustic.  Details are strong for the majority of the film.  You will find textures on costumes and objects to be easily discernible.  The contrast and brightness levels complement each other and provide that natural image.  Black levels are not deep and inky, but they are well suited for this style of filmmaking.  So, well it is not memorable it is more than watchable without any fuss.

The audio is typically of the genre.  The DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track consists mainly of dialogue.  This track, like the video, will not stand out at any particular moment.  Dialogue is clean and clear throughout.  The rear channels contain only minute amounts of ambience and music score.  However, that is perfectly natural for this film.  There is no fancy panning around the soundfield here.  One could almost listen to this film on a standard stereo system and be just fine.  The dynamics are decent for the drama.  They play nicely between flashbacks and present material.  All in all, the audio track will not leave a lasting impression but won’t hinder your viewing and auditory experience either.

There is but on special feature on this Blu-ray disc.  There is a 10-minute interview with director Tony Goldwyn and the real Betty Anne Waters.  There is nothing insightful in the special feature.

“Conviction” suffers from stretched out sequences throughout the film but does provide use with strong performances by Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell and Minnie Driver.  This film is definitely worth at least a rent.

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