Magazine article The Spectator

Neither Here nor There

Magazine article The Spectator

Neither Here nor There

Article excerpt


15, Nationwide

Conviction is yet another film based on 'an inspirational true story' because, I'm assuming, Hollywood has now run out of madeup stories. (There isn't a limitless supply, you know; it's not as if you can just magic them out of the air. ) This story is a remarkable story but, alas, this film is not a remarkable film. It is competently executed, and it isn't total torture to sit through, but it suffers from what I would call 'chronic plod'.

Plod, plod, plod, plod, plod, it goes, and while I have nothing against plodding per se - as something of a plodder myself, I would be a fool to come out wholly against it - it does get rather tiring. Plodding is tiring. Indeed, after a full day of plodding, I can be thoroughly worn out. Non-plodders may not even realise how tiring it is.

So, what is this true and inspirational story that plods? I will tell you. Billed as a tale about 'a sister's unwavering devotion to her brother', it's the story of Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank), a working-class mom and high-school dropout whose older brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) is given a life sentence for a murder he claims he didn't commit. Betty Anne believes in his innocence and, unable to afford legal fees, puts herself back into school, then through college and law school in order to qualify as an attorney, assemble new evidence and clear his name. It took her 18 years, but she did it. Wow. Would you do such a thing for your older brother? Would you? I don't know if I'd do it for mine. When we were growing up, he used to write 'Arsenal' or 'Up The Gunners' on my forehead in laundry pen while I was asleep. This makes me waver. (Also, he once pee-d on my sister in the bath, but as she was bossy, I rather applauded this.

'Keep up. Why do you always have to plod?'

she would always ask bossily on our way to school. ) Conviction must have looked good on paper because it is good on paper. It may even be great on paper, but it stays great only on paper. It is not great on screen.

Directed by Tony Goldwyn with a script by Pamela Gray, it doesn't bring anything to the party beyond the story itself, which is what keeps it going in as far as it does keep going. It's the pedestrian telling of it that's the problem.

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