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.