Yes, it is a true story.
Let's talk about for a minute the fact that Conviction is based on a real case. The events that transpired in this film happened to real people, people whose lives were shaken to the core when Kenny Waters (Rockwell) was convicted of murder and imprisoned. His sister Betty Anne Waters (Swank) is convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, of his innocence and dedicates her life to proving what she believes. The roller coaster ride of emotional ups and downs that follows was not going to be easy to portray on screen, it was going to take some serious talent to tell this incredible story.
Enter 2-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank, her portrayal of Betty Anne is extraordinary. She shows the dogged determination in every scene she is in, whether she is pursuing evidence that was supposedly destroyed years ago or raising her sons in a loving home. There is a burning passion that just makes you believe that hell or high water she is going to accomplish whatever she sets her mind to. Let's not forget the reason for this story either, Sam Rockwell owns in his role as Kenny Waters. Most of his time on screen is spent behind bars or in prison visitation rooms but whenever Swank comes to visit he is there, celebrating her victories and suffering her setbacks. The subtleties in both of these performances are what make this film such a great experience and you truly feel a sibling bond between the two of them. That leads us to the true core of Conviction, which is this unquestionable love of a brother and a sister who support each other through the direst of circumstances.
I wouldn't say Conviction is a film about redemption but one of perseverance and inspiration nonetheless. Not since I have watched the documentary The Thin Blue Line has a true-crime drama ever felt so emotionally real for me. Conviction may been based on a tragic reality but out of the Waters' story an inspirational one arises, never give up hope especially when those around you already have.
Conversation with Director Tony Goldwyn and Betty Anne Waters (10 Minutes): An intimate quasi-interview between the director of the Conviction, Tony Goldwyn (who had been trying to make this film for 8 years) talks with the real Betty Anne Waters about her amazing story and what can be taken away from film. It is short, but great to see the true person behind the incredible story.
Damn good film about an amazing true story.