Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Conviction, dir. Tony Goldwyn, wr. Pamela Gray, st. Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Minnie Driver

There sometimes comes a point when watching a film when initial unease gives way to willing immersion, when suddenly, it slips into gear and all is well. Whether this is down to subjective perception or a shonkily edited first act is debatable, but when it happens, regardless of the overall quality of the film, it's like slipping into a warm bath. And indeed, there comes a point in Conviction, just as you're beginning to get hung up on its limited Made-for-TV aspirations, when the humanity of the story comes to the fore and you realise that this is what will be driving the film for the rest of its duration. And what a wonderful human story this is. In a month when questions have been asked about the cause of the London Riots, parenting, class and education, we have in Conviction a pair of characters whose unwavering sibling love for one another transcends the sub-standard quality of their upbringing. Like 1993's Indecent Proposal, Conviction asks a similar water-cooler question: would you be willing to give up your life in the pursuit of seeking justice on behalf of a member of your family? Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell make a fine pairing, indeed the success of the film rests on the plausibility of their bond, but this is Rockwell's film. Transitioning from cocky hell-raiser to a man broken by the weight of incarceration requires a skill and sensitivity rarely found in today's leading men, but skills we have come to recognise as gloriously part of the package from the great actor.