Thoughts on Hilary Swank movie “Conviction”

I caught the new Hilary Swank film, “Conviction,” this weekend. As you may know, it’s the story of a Massachusetts woman who earned a law degree so she could free her brother from prison where he was serving a sentence for a murder he did not commit. One of the interesting things about the film is that the main villain is Martha Coakley. You may recall her as the Democrat who ran in 2010 for the Senate seat opened up by Edward Kennedy’s death. She lost to Republican Scott Brown, and for a while, it looked like the loss would be the final blow against the health-care bill.

Now, if you take the movie at face value, Coakley does come across as — to use a term employed by Swank’s character — “an evil bitch.” As Attorney General, she blocks the release of the imprisoned brother even though DNA evidence has exonerated him.

Coakley is currently running again for the Attorney General position, and disputes claims made in the movie.

Coakley’s representatives sought to curtail the negative press from the movie yesterday and released a fact sheet detailing what they said are inaccuracies. According to the release, Coakley did not keep Waters in prison for months after DNA tests showed he wasn’t the one who brutally murdered Katharina Brow in her Ayer home in 1980. Waters was released from prison within two weeks of the DNA test, according to the fact sheet, which highlighted her 20 years as a prosecutor and record of protecting against wrongful convictions.

I, of course, have no way of knowing who’s telling the truth here. But I am a little curious about one thing. The movie has been in various stages of production for several years, and there must’ve been a point where director Tony Goldwyn (who, I was a bit surprised to discover, is the same Tony Goldwyn who played the heavy in “Ghost”) was aware that he could be working on a film that would either malign a contender for the Senate (had the movie come out a year earlier) or malign a sitting senator (had she won.) Obviously, that dilemma would be a bit daunting. And, I don’t know Tony Goldwyn’s politics, so I have to wonder whether he would be concerned that his film could actually harm the Democratic agenda. (I presume most people Hollywood are simpering liberal pinkos.)

I actually did a little research on the Web into this matter, and did find this interviewwith Goldwyn which touches on the subject.

[Q:] While she’s never seen, one of the arresting moments in the film for many viewers may be discovering Martha Coakley was the person who had a hand in keeping Kenny behind bars as the attorney general in Massachusetts. During production, were you paying close attention to what was going on in her ill-fated 2009 run for Senate in Massachusetts? And do you feel that takes audiences out of the movie at all?

[A:] Oh my God. It was unbelievable, incredible. I couldn’t believe that was happening. I think it’s good for the film because Martha Coakley became sort of an infamous character and had we come out a year ago, it probably would’ve been much more prominent, but I think people go, “Oh, I think I’ve heard of that name.” Look, she became a very prominent person. She was attorney general of the state of Massachusetts and yet DAs and prosecutors are in the business of keeping people in jail. Putting them in jail and keeping them there and she wasn’t about to let him out until Barry [Scheck] shamed her into it.

One thing not mentioned by the movie: the imprisoned brother, Kenny Waters, died in a fall six months after finally being freed from prison.

1 Response to “Thoughts on Hilary Swank movie “Conviction””


  1. John Saleeby

    I think there should be a Movie where James Franco goes on the Letterman show, gets his arm stuck in the space between Letterman’s front teeth, and has to cut it off himself.