Kenny Waters received a life sentence for a murder he didn't commit. His loving sister Betty Anne, sacrificed her life and marriage to work her way through law school, becoming a lawyer for the purpose of freeing her brother from prison. It took over 18 years, but she finally obtained blood samples, previously reported destroyed due to age, that could be tested for a DNA match. She also found out the eye witnessed were bullied into lying under oath by the only female officer in the department, Nancy Taylor (Melissa Leo), who was making a name for herself in a mans world.
Betty Anne (Hilary Swank) and her brother, Kenny Waters (Sam Rockwell), were the best of friends growing up despite their screwed up childhood. Raised by an incompetent mother who eventually lost them and split up through many foster homes, the children shared a tightly knit bond. They used to break into expensive homes, not to vandalise but only to lay on the beds, imagining a better life for them someday. But Kenny was a smart mouth lad which followed him through is adult years. Basically a nice guy, he faced his share of run-ins with the law thus making him an easy target to pin a murder conviction on.
The two siblings were so close that when Betty Anne got word of Kenny's arrest, she stayed exclusively by his side, vowing her complete devotion to find a way to set him free. She got her GED, went back to college, got her degree in law, enrolled in a legal college, passed the bar and became an attorney. She did this to gain information off limits to her before, helping to build a case, proving her brothers innocence. But this devotion took it's toll on her marriage and relationship with her children. She still refused to give up hope her brother would someday soon become a free man. Even when 18 years later, DNA evidence clearly stated Kenny was not the suspected criminal, it still took more than a year to clear his name. Along with the help of her only friend, Abra Rice (Minnie Driver), and a legal defense for the wrongly accused, with leader Barry Scheck (Peter Gallagher), the same as in the O.J. Simpson case, almost 19 years later, Kenny was finally acquitted and set free.
2010 - National Board of Review - Freedom of Expression Award
Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Omega Entertainment, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Director: Tony Goldwyn
Writer: Pamela Gray
Producers: Tony Goldwyn, Andrew Sugerman, Andrew S. Karsch