A film which questions the justice system, 'Conviction' will tug on the heart strings for lots of reasons, not least the powerful story which inspired it and the great acting from its leads.

Betty Anne Waters (Swank) is a sister in a million. When her wayward brother Kenny (Rockwell) is convicted of a murder that he claims he didn’t commit, she will stop at nothing to spare him a life behind bars. Despite having a young family, she decides to put herself through law school in order to have the tools at her disposal to really help Kenny, when nobody else seems to believe his protests of innocence.

But the journey isn’t an easy one. As well as taking years to get to where she wants to be, there are setbacks at every turn. Betty Anne begins to struggle with her course work, her family life suffers and the legal system isn’t everything that she thought it would be as she delves deeper and deeper into it. With the assistance of fellow mature-student Abra Rice (Driver), Betty Anne re-examines the case evidence against her brother, investigates claims of police corruption and finds out if the key witnesses had some ulterior motives that remained undiscovered. But as time ticks on, her brother Kenny’s attitude towards the case raises a few more questions.

Hilary Swank gives a convincing and moving performance as the sister who sacrifices her own life in order to give her beloved brother back his. She is ably supported throughout by Minnie Driver, who is on form as her loyal friend and fellow case investigator. But it is Sam Rockwell’s performance, as the incarcerated Kenny, which is the most memorable here, from devil-may-care local lad to uneasy prisoner, as he scales the high and lows of a man who feels that life is punishing him for one wrong turn too many.

'Conviction's real power as an on-screen spectacle is in its truth. The frightening fact that something like this could happen so recently makes for uneasy viewing.

Linda McGee