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"CONVICTION"
(2010) (Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Heavy Extreme Moderate Moderate
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Heavy None Minor Moderate Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Moderate Heavy Heavy Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A woman spends nearly two decades going back to school to get her law degree so that she can try to get her brother out of prison for a murder she knows he didn't commit.
PLOT:
It's the 1980s and siblings Betty Anne Waters (HILARY SWANK) and Kenny Waters (SAM ROCKWELL) have always had a special bond due in part to having grown up in various foster homes thanks to a decidedly less than good mom. Now young adults, Betty Anne has matured more than her brother who's no stranger to run-ins with the law. That reputation eventually comes around to haunt him as Ayer, Massachusetts police officer Nancy Taylor (MELISSA LEO) arrests him on suspicion for the brutal murder of a local woman in 1980.

Although he's released, two years later he's arrested again for that crime and then convicted to serve the rest of his life in prison, thanks to testimony by the mother of his young child along with his lover, Roseanna Perry (JULIETTE LEWIS). Kenny claims he's innocent, but no one believes him. That is, except for Betty Anne who decides the only way for her to get him out is to attend and then graduate from college and then law school, and then pass the bar in order to become his lawyer.

That commitment eventually causes her husband, Rick (LOREN DEAN), to leave her, while their kids, Richard (CONOR DONOVAN) and Ben (OWEN CAMPBELL) eventually have enough moments of disappointment with their mom that they decide to move in with their dad. Yet, Betty Anne continues on her quest, helped by fellow law school student Abra Rice (MINNIE DRIVER) and eventually Innocence Project founder Barry Scheck (PETER GALLAGHER) who states they might be able to do something if DNA samples can be recovered.

As Betty Anne tries to do just that -- despite the many years that have passed since the initial trial -- and hopes to convince her now young adult niece, Mandy (ARI GRAYNOR), that her father is not the murderer she's been led to believe, she must overcome various setbacks that threaten to derail her effort to prove her brother's innocence.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans or someone in the cast or films about criminal law, the penal system or efforts to free wrongly convicted prisoners, it doesn't seem too likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language and some violent images.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • HILARY SWANK plays a young woman who devotes her life to proving her brother's innocence regarding his murder conviction and thus spends years getting her college and then law school degrees and passing the bar exam in order to become his lawyer. She must contend with various doubts and setbacks, including her determination undermining her marriage and putting a strain on her relationship with her two sons. She uses brief strong profanity and drinks some.
  • SAM ROCKWELL plays her brother, prone to getting into trouble, having bursts of violence and being in and out of jail. He ends up convicted of murdering a local woman and must then contend with his life sentence in prison. He uses lots of strong profanity, sports tattoos, apparently drinks, briefly smokes and is seen nude in public in a flashback.
  • MINNIE DRIVER plays Betty Anne's fellow law school classmate who befriends and then decides to help her with her quest. She briefly uses strong profanity.
  • ARI GRAYNOR plays Kenny's now young adult daughter who wants nothing to do with news of his possible innocence due to believing her entire life that he's guilty. She briefly smokes.
  • PETER GALLAGHER plays a legal advocate for those incorrectly imprisoned who decides to help Betty Anne with overturning her brother's case.
  • MELISSA LEO plays the local cop who pins the murder on Kenny, but turns out to be corrupt.
  • LOREN DEAN plays Betty Anne's husband who eventually leaves her.
  • CONOR DONOVAN plays their oldest son who finally has had enough with his mom disappointing him and thus decides to move back in with his dad.
  • OWEN CAMPBELL plays his younger brother who feels the same way and briefly uses profanity.
  • JULIETTE LEWIS plays a woman who was Kenny's lover in the past but lied about his involvement in the murder, saying she was intimidated into doing so. She drinks, briefly smokes, and uses strong profanity.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity consists of at least 55 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Some non-explicit, sexually related dialogue is present (as are unrelated song lyrics), as is a sexual gesture, while a man pulls down his pants in public (full rear nude view).

    The bloody aftermath of an unseen murder is viewed, and some briefly seen photos of the same are also present. Characters hit or strike others in a few scenes. Some of that material might be unsettling for some viewers.

    Drinking and smoking occur in various scenes. Bad attitudes are present, as is tense family material and thematic elements, while potentially imitative behavior also occurs.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, there's some of that from flashing police lights in a flashback.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there's camera movement from time to time in the film, including handheld point of view footage.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Betty Anne serves various alcoholic beverages to customers in a bar where Abra drinks.
  • We see a flashback to young Betty Anne and Kenny's stepdad holding a beer.
  • We see a flashback to younger Betty Anne and others in a bar with drinks. After Kenny attacks a man who badmouthed his child, Kenny tells others to get his "friend" some Wild Turkey.
  • Betty Anne and Abra have wine with dinner.
  • About getting out of prison, Kenny jokes to Betty Anne that he wants a limo with a fully stocked bar to pick him up.
  • Roseanna has a drink and then has more, all while stating that Nancy and other cops got her drunk in the past (to scare her into confessing against Kenny), adding, "I was f*cking plastered."
  • People drink in a bar to celebrate New Year's Eve.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • The camera makes its way through a small house, first finding some blood on the fridge and other parts of the kitchen, and then in the bedroom where there's even more, on the wall, bed, etc. We then briefly/partially see a dead and bloody body on the floor (the victim of an unseen, brutal murder).
  • Kenny has slight scratches on his face in the past when he's believed to be a murder suspect.
  • We hear that the murder victim was stabbed more than thirty times and had her head bashed until her brains oozed out (not seen).
  • A man's face is bloody after Kenny head-butts him in a flashback.
  • We see photos of the murder victim, including one of bloody and matted hair, and another side view of the corpse with a hole and cut on the head and neck. We also hear (but don't see) graphic descriptions of the wounds.
  • We briefly see part of an old photo from the murder case showing a bloody arm.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Kenny doesn't pay heed to Officer Taylor telling him he needs to come with her to the police station. He calls her "sweetheart" and "cupcake" and tells her to "get the f*ck off" his grandparents' property, while she tells him to put down (the non-running) chainsaw and eventually pulls her handgun and aims it at him during the arrest.
  • We hear that Kenny has past run-ins with the law, and he doesn't take the murder charges against him seriously.
  • We see a flashback to young Betty Anne and young Kenny stealing candy, with her tossing it out a bathroom window and him catching it outside.
  • We see a flashback to young Betty Anne and young Kenny in trouble with the law, and their step-dad saying "Ain't my f*cking kids" while their mom slaps young Kenny on the head.
  • After Kenny accidentally bumps into a stranger in a bar (in a flashback and while Kenny holds his young daughter and the man badmouths him for that), Kenny hands his daughter to someone else, goes back to the man and head-butts him to the floor. He then holds a broken beer bottle to the bloodied man, but doesn't use it on him. Kenny's girlfriend then slaps Kenny for doing that.
  • Kenny's girlfriend falsely testifies against him in court, thus helping seal his fate.
  • In a flashback, young Kenny calls a cop a "fat ass."
  • First on the phone and then in person, Betty Anne lies to cops that she's Abra (in hopes of finding old case evidence but worried that the cops might destroy it if they realize she's really Kenny's sister).
  • Betty Anne is mad when Abra suggest that the former should be realistic and ready for the possibility that Kenny's DNA will match that found at the murder scene.
  • We hear that Nancy (the cop) framed another cop in the past.
  • About hearing the D.A. isn't going to grant him clemency, Kenny angrily states, "I'm gonna f*cking kill that bitch."
  • Recognizing Barry, Roseanna says he's that "famous Jew lawyer."
  • Mandy's mom admits to lying in court in the past against Kenny.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence," "Blood/Gore" and "Jump Scenes" may be unsettling and/or suspenseful or scary to younger viewers and/or those with low tolerance levels for such material.
  • The camera makes its way through a small house, first finding some blood on the fridge and other parts of the kitchen, and then in the bedroom where there's even more, on the wall, bed, etc. We then briefly/partially see a dead and bloody body on the floor (the victim of an unseen, brutal murder).
  • Betty Anne is informed that case evidence was destroyed in 1993 (by state law). That might worry some viewers that her quest has been derailed.
  • Betty Anne is taken aback (and a little suspenseful music plays) when Kenny informs her that his blood will match in the DNA test, but then says he means he knows they'll find some way to frame him.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Ben reads a poem about guns, bombs and such.
  • Kenny doesn't pay heed to Officer Taylor telling him he needs to come with her to the police station. He calls her "sweetheart" and "cupcake" and tells her to "get the f*ck off" his grandparents' property, while she tells him to put down (the non-running) chainsaw and eventually pulls her handgun and aims it at him during the arrest.
  • In a flashback, police arrive to arrest young Betty Anne and Kenny for breaking and entering into another home. The kids try to run, with a cop aiming his handgun at them by instinct as they rush toward him, but he then lowers that.
  • Kenny talks about another shooting as a possible precedent for his case.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Get the f*ck off my grandparents' property," "Ain't my f*cking kids," "The f*ck you don't," "I'll f*cking kill you," "What the f*ck?" "Are you out of your f*cking mind?" "Are f*cking with me," "A f*cking old German bitch," "F*ck you," "You f*cking c*cks*cker," "M*therf*cker," "I'm f*cked," "I was f*cked right from the start" (nonsexual), "F*ck them," "F*cking fantastic," "Shut the f*ck up," "You can't keep f*cking with my brother's life like this," "You f*cking did it," "A f*cking genius," "I'm gonna kill that f*cking bitch," "F*cking chumps," "That f*cking cop," "Yes she f*cking did," "I was f*cking plastered," "He can f*ck himself" (nonsexual), "Oh sh*t," "You're sh*tting me," "Give a sh*t about me," "Piece of sh*t," "Holy sh*t," "You keep watching my ass, I'll have to clock you," followed by "If you keep wearing those jeans I'll have to marry you," "Are we both going to sleep with him or just you?" "Got screwed by the system," "Sweetheart," "Butter cup," "You go to hell," "Hey fat ass," "Scumbags," "That son of a bitch," "Bitch," "What the hell wrong with you?" "You're damn right you don't," "Get the hell out of my house right now," "Sucks," "Are you out of your mind?" "I'll be damned," "That evil bitch" and "Shut up."
  • Kenny has tattoos.
  • We see a flashback to young Betty Anne and young Kenny hanging on the side of a truck as it drives down the road.
  • We see a flashback to young Betty Anne and young Kenny stealing candy, with her tossing it out a bathroom window and him catching it outside.
  • In a flashback in a bar, Kenny removes his shirt and dances around to the house band, and then pulls down his pants, giving everyone a full rear nude view of him.
  • Roseanna states in court that she and Kenny were lovers in the past. Kenny then turns and makes a playful, male oral sex gesture back to Betty Anne about Roseanna.
  • We see miscellaneous shirtless male prisoners who sport tattoos.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A tiny bit of ominous music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • We hear a house band doing a cover of the song "My Sharona" that has non-explicit, but sexually related lyrics (such as "always get it up for the touch of the younger kind").
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 55 "f" words (8 used with "mother"), 16 "s" words, 1 slang term using male genitals ("c*cks*cker"), 5 damns, 5 hells, 3 asses, 2 S.O.B.s, 6 uses of "G-damn," 4 of "Oh my God," 3 of "Jesus," 2 of "For Christ's sakes," and 1 use each of "God," "Godforsaken" and "Jesus Christ."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Betty Anne jokingly tells her bartender boss that if he keeps "watching my ass I'll have to clock you." He playfully replies he'll have to marry her if she keeps wearing those jeans.
  • While being released from jail, Kenny jokes about Nancy wanting to see him with his clothes off.
  • We see a flashback to younger Betty Anne kissing her fiancÚ in a bar where Kenny kisses his girlfriend.
  • We hear a house band doing a cover of the song "My Sharona" that has non-explicit, but sexually related lyrics (such as "always get it up for the touch of the younger kind").
  • In a flashback in a bar, Kenny removes his shirt and dances around to the house band, and then pulls down his pants, giving everyone a full rear nude view of him.
  • We see Betty Anne's shirtless husband in bed with her.
  • Roseanna states in court that she and Kenny were lovers in the past. Kenny then turns and makes a playful, male oral sex gesture back to Betty Anne about Roseanna.
  • In court we hear that Betty Anne and Kenny's mother had 9 children by 7 different fathers.
  • Kenny is shirtless in his prison cell.
  • As part of a class group project, there's talk of a DNA test of semen in a rape case.
  • About Betty Anne saying she's going to get Barry to help her case, Abra jokingly asks, "Are we both gonna sleep with him, or just you?"
  • We see miscellaneous shirtless male prisoners who sport tattoos.
  • SMOKING
  • Kenny, Roseanna and Mandy each smoke once, while a miscellaneous person smokes once and a flashback shows the kids' dad with a cigarette over his ear.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • We see a flashback to young Betty Anne and young Kenny in trouble with the law, and their step-dad saying "Ain't my f*cking kids" while their mom slaps young Kenny on the head.
  • Betty Anne gets a call that her father died and we then see her, her family and Kenny at the funeral (where police show up and arrest Kenny for the murder from 2 years earlier).
  • Betty Anne talks of her and her brother going through multiple foster homes.
  • Betty Anne slaps something from her mother's hand after her mom says something bad about Kenny.
  • We see a flashback to young Betty Anne and Kenny reacting adversely as they're informed they're going to separate foster homes and are then forcibly separated.
  • Betty Anne reacts with sad/distraught emotion when she hears her brother convicted of murder in the first degree and armed robbery.
  • Betty Anne hears over the phone that Kenny tried to kill himself in prison.
  • Betty Anne's kids are disappointed when they realize she forgot about an important fishing trip with them.
  • We learn that Betty Anne and her husband are now separated.
  • Betty Anne's oldest son informs his mom that he and his brother want to go live with their dad (with the younger brother confirming this and that it's their idea and not their dad's).
  • Mad about something else, Betty Anne sarcastically asks her sons how their father's new girlfriend is, asking if she's 14 or 15.
  • Betty Anne is taken aback (and a little suspenseful music plays) when Kenny informs her that his blood will match in the DNA test, but then says he means he knows they'll find some way to frame him.
  • Betty Anne calls her niece to inform her that Kenny is innocent, but we see Mandy's hand erase the message.
  • Betty Anne thrashes and throws things inside a house in anger when she gets bad news about her brother's pending exoneration.
  • Mandy wants nothing to do with Betty Anne and her news about Mandy's father.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The historical accuracy and/or any artistic license taken with the true story.
  • Those who are wrongly convicted and imprisoned for crimes they didn't commit, and those who try to get them exonerated.
  • DNA testing for current and past criminal cases.
  • We hear that Kenny has past run-ins with the law, and he doesn't take the murder charges against him seriously.
  • Kenny stating that cops are drawn to him like bees to honey.
  • In court we hear that Betty Anne and Kenny's mother had 9 children by 7 different fathers.
  • Betty Anne talks of her and her brother going through multiple foster homes.
  • Betty Anne hears over the phone that Kenny tried to kill himself in prison.
  • About his life, Kenny says he was "f*cked right from the start," that nobody gives "a sh*t" about him, and that he's just a "piece of sh*t."
  • The Innocence Project.
  • Betty Anne is informed that case evidence was destroyed in 1993 (by state law).
  • VIOLENCE
  • The camera makes its way through a small house, first finding some blood on the fridge and other parts of the kitchen, and then in the bedroom where there's even more, on the wall, bed, etc. We then briefly/partially see a dead and bloody body on the floor (the victim of an unseen, brutal murder).
  • We hear that the murder victim was stabbed more than thirty times and had her head bashed until her brains oozed out (not seen).
  • We see a flashback to young Betty Anne fighting a boy in a barn who has her pinned in the hay until she gets up and punches him.
  • We see a flashback to young Betty Anne and young Kenny in trouble with the law, and their step-dad saying "Ain't my f*cking kids" while their mom slaps young Kenny on the head.
  • After Kenny accidentally bumps into a stranger in a bar (in a flashback and while Kenny holds his young daughter and the man badmouths him for that), Kenny hands his daughter to someone else, goes back to the man and head-butts him to the floor. He then holds a broken beer bottle to the bloodied man, but doesn't use it on him. Kenny's girlfriend then slaps Kenny for doing that.
  • When a lawyer asked in disbelief that Roseanna stayed with Kenny after he allegedly admitted to the murder, Roseanna says she did until he bashed in her teeth (and she shows some chipped ones in her mouth).
  • In a flashback, police arrive to arrest young Betty Anne and Kenny for breaking and entering into another home. The kids try to run, with a cop aiming his handgun at them by instinct as they rush toward him, but he then lowers that. The cops grab at them, with Betty Anne kicking one in the leg, followed by cops grabbing her outside and Kenny jumping on one cop's back to try to free her.
  • Betty Anne slaps something from her mother's hand after her mom says something bad about Kenny.
  • We see a flashback to young Betty Anne and Kenny reacting adversely as they're informed they're going to separate foster homes and are then forcibly separated.
  • In a flashback, young Betty Anne hits a cop who's pulling young Kenny away from her.
  • Kenny thrashes things in his prison cell, prompting guards to enter. He throws something at one and hits another, followed by a guard spraying him with pepper spray (or the equivalent) and others then grabbing and hitting him.
  • Betty Anne thrashes and throws things inside a house in anger when she gets bad news about her brother's pending exoneration.
  • Upset that he's not going to get out of prison as promised, Kenny acts up. When told to sit down, he pins one guard to a wall, with others grabbing and restraining him.



  • Reviewed September 20, 2010 / Posted October 22, 2010

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