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MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for language and some violent images.

Reviewed by: Steve Warburton

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Thriller Biography Drama
1 hr. 47 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
October 15, 2010 (select—10 theaters)
October 22, 2010 (wide—55 theaters)
DVD: February 1, 2011
Featuring: Hilary Swank (Betty Anne Waters), Sam Rockwell, Juliette Lewis, Minnie Driver (Abra), Ari Graynor, Clea DuVall, Melissa Leo, Peter Gallagher, Bailee Madison (Young Betty Anne), See all »
Director: Tony Goldwyn
Producer: Pantheon Entertainment Corporation, Oceana Media Finance, Innocence Productions, See all »
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

“The incredible true story of Betty Anne Waters—an extraordinary journey of how far we go to fight for our family.”

“Conviction” tells the story of Betty Ann Waters (Hilary Swank), a woman who gets her law degree just so she can free her brother, who she believes is wrongfully imprisoned for first degree murder. The story is based on real life, so I can go ahead and tell you that he is wrongfully imprisoned, and he is eventually exonerated—thanks to the hard work and dedication of his sister. That’s not a spoiler. This movie is not a suspenseful courtroom drama. It’s about the power of love and the need to work hard so that justice can be served.

Betty Ann’s brother, Kenny, is no saint. He drinks too much, womanizes too much, and confesses that his life is a piece of something that rhymes with “wit.” He’s not a good guy. But he’s also not a murderer. In a sense, “Conviction” asks some of the same questions that 1988’s “The Accused” asks: Is justice for everyone, or is it just for the good decent folk who go to church, pay their bills, and contribute to society?

Through liberal use of flashback, we see that Kenny and Betty Ann were happiest when they were together. Their home life was far from stable; they relied on each other for pretty much everything. Incalculable damage may have been done when they were separated and sent off to foster homes. These kids needed each other, and they still need each other in their adult lives.

I’m not sure what else to say about this movie. It worked. It’s about family, and it’s about justice.

The most objectionable thing about this movie is the language. There’s a lot of profanity, and we hear the Lord Jesus Christ’s name taken in vain several times. If that’s a dealbreaker for you, then this is a movie to avoid.

Violence: Moderate
Profanity: Extreme—over 50 “f” words, 16 “s” words, “G-damn” (6), “Oh my G-d” (4), “Jesus” (3), “Jesus Christ” (1), “For Christ’s sakes” (2), “God,” “Godforsaken,” etc.
Sex/Nudity: Moderate to heavy—primarily vulgarity, scene with full rear male nudity, but no sex scenes

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—I know some might get mad at me for saying this, because of all the profanity… but this is a really great movie. I really enjoyed watching it, and I want to recommend it; but there are many, many, f-words. At least seventy, probably more. For this film, though, I can understand why it has the R-rated language; since it’s about people with broken families, who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak. That’s just an everyday word to them. So… those are my thoughts, but I know most Christians wouldn’t care to watch it. Maybe there’s an edited version somewhere…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)
Negative—This could have been such a great movie exploring strong sibling bonds and love, of believing in another person, of laying down your life for another, of friendship through the hard times, of justice for everybody no matter your station in life, but the message, to me, started to become lost in the constant, gratuitous use of the f-bomb, and multitudes of other swear words including using the Lord’s name in vain. It’s hard to find an adult movie without any use of the f-word and swearing, anymore, but this one was over the top. Trying to wade through all of that to find the story became a chore. And the scene with the backside nudity, in my opinion, was also gratuitous and could have been left out. Don’t know if the story was worth sitting through two hours of constant profanity.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Susanne, age 50 (Canada)