Deliquent jus­tice

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - Jonathan Richards For The New Mex­i­can

Icrime and pun­ish­ment, rated R, Re­gal DeVargas, There is a built-in prob­lem in the ripped-from-the-head­lines movie genre. We know how the film is go­ing to turn out. In a case like this one, the head­lines at the time may not have clawed their way into our con­scious­ness, but the PR sur­round­ing the film has done its work. If you’re go­ing to see Con­vic­tion, chances are you al­ready know the rough out­lines of the story. The movie’s job is to wring ev­ery­thing it can out of its mo­ments, be­cause we all know where it’s go­ing. Of course, much the same could be said of life.

Kenny and Betty Anne Wa­ters grew up run­ning wild, the ne­glected chil­dren of a blowzy blonde who, be­tween work and ro­mance, didn’t have a lot of time for them. They lived a life of pre-ado­les­cent delin­quency, break­ing into houses and steal­ing candy from stores, and even­tu­ally they were parceled out to sep­a­rate fos­ter homes.

Di­rec­tor Tony Gold­wyn, work­ing from a script by Pamela Gray, shuf­fles child­hood and adult scenes in a man­ner that even­tu­ally grows ir­ri­tat­ing. The point is to give us the back story on the ex­cep­tional close­ness of this brother and sis­ter. As an adult, Kenny (Sam Rock­well) is a lik­able jerk, prone to vi­o­lence and no stranger to run-ins with the law, but he’s the sort of ir­re­press­ible clown no one can stay mad at.

Ex­cept for of­fi­cer Nancy Tay­lor (Melissa Leo), a nar­row-eyed, hard-mouthed lo­cal cop who has it in for the guy in a big way. So when a woman is bru­tally stabbed to death in her trailer home, Tay­lor comes call­ing on Kenny with hand­cuffs, a gun, and an at­ti­tude you could scale fish with.

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