It’s common that a movie trailer will turn me off from seeing a film that I suspect is bad. But sometimes a trailer makes me think that it’s a pretty good movie that I don’t want to see, either. That’s the case with Conviction, the story of a young woman whose brother is convicted of murder; over 18 years, she gets her GED, her college and law degrees and begins a legal struggle to clear him and rescue him from Death Row. It’s an Oscar vehicle for Hilary Swank, who plays the sister, and what appears to be another fine performance by Sam Rockwell, who plays the brother. It’s based on the true story of one Betty Anne Waters.
The problem for me is that the film looks self righteous, overly earnest and humorless. It’s just too damn inspirational. Melissa Leo, who can add texture to any performance, apparently has been given a one-note cardboard cut-out role of a close-minded cop.
And here’s a lawyer’s quibble: You wouldn’t expect somebody right out of night law school to overturn a murder conviction with a well-reasoned appeal – and she doesn’t. Instead, she gets the Innocence Project to test the DNA, which clears the brother (that isn’t a spoiler if you’ve seen the trailer). Now you don’t need to go to law school to involve the Innocence Project – they get involved on the wishes of the non-lawyer relatives of convicts all the time. So the 18-year struggle may be extraordinary, but that’s not what gets the brother off.
This trailer reminds me of the one for The Duchess, which featured Keira Knightly adorned in 18th century finery in a spectacular shot with hundreds of candles – and made me want to gag. No The Duchess for me.
Speaking of trailers, I really enjoy another (even more irreverent) WordPress blog, The Trailer Trashers. Their tag line is “The only critics who dare review movies BEFORE we see them”. Yes, they review the trailers. Give them a look see.