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Two-time Academy Award® winner Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell deliver unforgettable performances in this incredible true story that co-stars Minnie Driver, Juliette Lewis and Peter Gallagher. Swank plays Betty Anne Waters, a young woman whose world is shattered when her beloved brother Kenny (Rockwell) is convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Steadfastly convinced of his innocence, Betty Anne embarks on an 18-year journey to set Kenny free, using state-of-the-art forensic technology. The unshakable bond between a brother and sister, at the heart of this real-life drama, will stir your emotions and inspire you.
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Top Customer Reviews
Any college girls out there considering psychology as a major, forget that, become a Lawyer or Legal Assistant. If you take that Meyers/Briggs test and come out an INFP/J take law.
The actresses and actors do an incredible job; get out your tissues when you watch this one. Well worth it.
In 1983, Kenny is convicted of the bloody murder of an elderly neighbor largely on the basis of testimony from two former girlfriends, both of whom claimed he confessed his actions to them. Neither Kenny nor Betty Anne can afford a good attorney, so she decides to become a lawyer even though she's a high school dropout. Also serving as one of the film's executive producers, Swank come back securely to the against-all-odds territory of Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby (2004) by following Betty Anne's sixteen-year journey from her GED through college, then law school, and finally passing the bar - all while she was raising two boys and working part-time at a local pub. The ending is predictable from a mile away, but the journey is not. The introduction of DNA evidence provides a linchpin that spins the story close to Lifetime-level dramatics, especially when Betty Ann solicits the assistance of the Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization devoted to overturning wrongful convictions. Gray's screenplay is solid enough, and Goldwyn's direction is assured within the back-and-forth treatment of the timeline.
However, it's really the acting that is aces here. Beyond Swank's sterling work, Sam Rockwell brings an unpredictable furor and a surprising vulnerability to the showier role of Kenny. His rapport with Swank never feels forced, and the devotion of their sibling relationship is what really grounds the threat of hysterics in the film. The periphery is populated by a powerful squad of actresses turning in sharply etched work - Minnie Driver as Betty Ann's law-school friend Abra, whose comic spark highlights how pivotal her character is in representing the audience viewpoint; Melissa Leo (Frozen River) as the malevolent arresting cop, whose secretive hostility provides the impetus for Kenny's conviction; Juliette Lewis as Kenny's dentally-challenged ex-girlfriend with a drunken confession scene that reveals the actress's long-forgotten raw talent below her usual giddiness; Karen Young in a brief scene as the unforgivable Mrs. Waters; and Ari Graynor (Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist) as Kenny's embittered grown daughter. It's the cast's cumulative work that makes this movie intensely watchable.
All these comments are not meant to suggest that the actors aren't working hard. The individual scenes are lively, and the issue is engaging, but at the end, we seem meant to think "Thank God for the Innocence Project," -- it doesn't add up to much more. We take on faith largely the bond between sister and brother, but nothing that we're shown and nothing in the script really brings that home to us as an unusual degree of devotion. The movie isn't boring, but it's all too much on the surface all the same.
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I'm a fan of Hilary Swank and an even bigger fan of movies based on a true story.Read more