Sam Rockwell has yet to find a movie as good as he is (Moon comes closest). He's still looking. Conviction sweetens the true story it's based on, and director Tony Goldwyn dutifully connects the dots in Pam Gray's screenplay. But Rockwell busts through with a spectacular performance. He plays Kenny Waters, a loose cannon in jail since 1983 doing life for the stabbing death of a Massachusetts woman. Kenny says he's innocent. Pretty much the only person who believes him is his sister Betty Anne (Hilary Swank). No one can stick out her chin and play determined like Swank, which is helpful, since Betty Anne puts herself through law school so she can defend her bro. If you don't see where this is going, you've probably never watched a movie. Swank fires on all cylinders, and watch Juliette Lewis turn scene-stealing into grand larceny in just two big moments. But it's Rockwell who gives Conviction the jolts of ferocity and feeling it needs. Oscar needs to take notice.
From The Archives Issue 158: April 11, 1974