In Contention


TIFF: ‘Conviction’ reviews trickling in

Posted by Kristopher Tapley · 10:28 am · September 10th, 2010

I had hoped Fox Searchlight would screen Tony Goldwyn’s “Conviction” here in LA during Toronto, but I guess I kind of understand why they didn’t.  I’ve heard nothing but “meh” things on the film since day one (the first reaction I heard was from someone who saw it before the studio even picked it up).  That ambivalence is reflected in Brad Brevet’s C+ review of the film out of Toronto.

Brevet calls it “a rather simple film” and notes that “the emotional impact of the story comes through in the end after what is a rather mundane and cliched story of the innocent man in jail and the person working hard on the outside to get him out.”  Well, I guess I could have gleaned that from a synopsis.  Dig, Brad!  Oh, here we go:  “At no point does this seem like new territory, but outside of being about ten minutes too long, it’s a film that works despite its rather traditional dramatic nature.”

Wouldn’t “traditional” be a guarantee that the story would work?  In any case, I’m just having fun here.  Most I’ve talked to seem to think Sam Rockwell could charge to the front of the supporting actor derby.  Brevet writes that the actor plays the character “with enough eccentricity to make it believable, but never so much that it feels like a caricature trying to be larger than the scene.”

At Hollywood News, Sean O’Connell notes that “you know exactly what you are going to get from [the] film before you even step foot in the theater” and that “the picture is going through the motions.”  He says “what you see in the official synopsis is what you will see on the screen,” so maybe I was a bit hard on ole’ Brad.  No praise of note for Rockwell from O’Connell, though.

I wouldn’t throw the film off the deep end just yet, since the low brow storytelling being described here helped “The Blind Side” along last year.  Of course, “Conviction” might face steep competition from “Secretariat” with the vanilla vote contingent, and Searchlight already has plenty to work with elsewhere.

[Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures]




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→ 18 Comments Tags: , , , | Filed in: Daily

18 responses so far

  • 1 9-10-2010 at 10:38 am

    Jim T said...

    Even though you compared it to The Blind Side, no one mentioned the female lead so I guess Swank is not a big threat. Thank god! :p

  • 2 9-10-2010 at 10:49 am

    Fitz said...

    Why would anyone watch this? The story is about a sister who goes through highschool, gets accepted to college and goes for her law degree to save her brother?

    That would take so long that everyone would have been better served by going to the ACLU.

  • 3 9-10-2010 at 10:53 am

    Jim T said...

    Strike that. Brevet liked her performance. Yikes!

    I’m semi-kidding, OK?

  • 4 9-10-2010 at 11:04 am

    Duncan Houst said...

    You really just said steep competition from “Secretariat”? I wouldn’t count on it. Then again, I wouldn’t count on “Conviction doing that well either.

  • 5 9-10-2010 at 11:09 am

    Zack said...

    In its favor, I WISH I could complain about some movies only being ten minutes too long.

  • 6 9-10-2010 at 11:45 am

    Loyal said...

    Hmm, Brevet’s review is down.

    Looking forward to today’s podcast Kris.

  • 7 9-10-2010 at 12:58 pm

    jen said...

    So this is neither The Blind Side nor Erin Brockovich. But still Swank could get a default nom. At least that’s what I understand.

  • 8 9-10-2010 at 12:59 pm

    red_wine said...

    It already looked like the most irredeemable shit ever. I seriously wonder who is gonna watch this movie. It seems like a Precious level melodramatic screaming, screeching tragedy-porn movie.

  • 9 9-10-2010 at 1:07 pm

    Dooby said...

    I was kinda hoping his wouldn’t be great even though I think Rockwell deserves his oscar nom one day but seriously if we had one more best actress contender or best picture contender for than matter – who’s gonna get booted out?

  • 10 9-10-2010 at 2:19 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    Swank is done. 2 Best Actress wins from 2 nominations – what reason would they have to nominate her? She’s no movie star (no one’s dying to see the new Hilary Swank movie) and she’s a limited actress for a two-time Oscar winner.

  • 11 9-10-2010 at 2:43 pm

    JR said...

    /3rtfu11, I agree with what you say about Swank but, with the right material and director, has proved luckier than nearly everyone in the business. Who’s to say she’s through?

  • 12 9-10-2010 at 6:10 pm

    Xavi Rodriguez said...

    You’re right /3rtfu11

    I don’t know if Sam Rockwell will made it, but if the film received those kind of reviews I think Hilary Swank is out of the competition for Best Actress:

    1. Thank God, this year is excellent for Best Actress: Annette Bening (X2), Natalie Portman, Jennifer Lawrence, Carey Mulligan, Michelle Williams (X2), Lesley Manville and possible foreign language performances and Noomi Rappace and another possibilities like Naomi Watts, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Connelly and Sibel Kekilli -I hope so, because she’s excellent in “Die Fremde”-
    2. As I said before, the trailer looks like a Lifetime movie of the week and also Swank sounds awful.
    3. If Sally Field, starring in the 1994 Best Picture frontrunner played a beloved mother, with BAFTA nomination, bigger and beloved star and a most compelling career didn’t make it with “Forrest Gump”…

  • 13 9-10-2010 at 7:33 pm

    Glenn said...

    You have to go back to George Clooney in 2005 to find a performance that won the Best Supporting Actor statue for a film not nominated for Best Picture. And since it was GEORGE CLOONEY in THE YEAR OF GEORGE CLOONEY you should probably go back to 2002 when Chris Cooper won for a better example.

    Unless Sam Rockwell is legitimately absolutely brilliant I doubt he can win without support for the film in any other way. He’s hardly overdue for a win and a nomination may be enough for a movie that nobody seems to particularly think is all that great. Even though he already has one, I might start to think Geoffrey Rush is the one to beat since it’s hard to argue against someone like Rush having two Oscars and if they really like King’s Speech but think it’s a bit too “traditional” for Best Picture these days… hmm. That category does just seem awfully dismal this year, doesn’t it? From a purely “oscar” stand point, I mean – there’s been plenty of great performances, but not many with a hope in hell of getting nominated.

  • 14 9-10-2010 at 8:52 pm

    Bing147 said...

    Uh, Glenn, you only have to go back to 08…

  • 15 9-11-2010 at 4:06 am

    Glenn said...

    Ugh, yes, I actually didn’t mean to write “not nominated for Best Picture” but instead a movie not nominated for a whole swag of other awards, but as I was looking at the list of winners I forgot that Dark Knight wasn’t nominated for BP. Hah. Hmmm…

  • 16 9-11-2010 at 5:46 am

    Patrick said...

    I’ve never bought the Blindside comparison. The Blindside had a very specific audience that played into the Southern Baptist croud. You had thematic elements (Christian School, Liberal White Guilt, Adoption, Football) that resonated with a group of people that don’t normally go to the movies. Even if the narrative was cliched ridden, the marketing and demographics were revolutionary in its own way. “Conviction” seems to be more conventional than The Blindside, if that’s possible.

    Like you said, Fox has actual awards contenders this year. They’re smart about these kind of things.

    Aside from that, people will take any excuse to crucify Swank now.

  • 17 9-11-2010 at 12:11 pm

    m1 said...

    Seriously. What is with you people and bitching about/hating on Hilary Swank?

  • 18 9-12-2010 at 9:22 am

    Mirfy B said...

    they could easily have made this one a comedy…not long after the brother was sprung from jail he died falling off a wall. Now THAT I’d like to see!