Sisterly love is stretched to the max when feckless good ol' boy Kenny (Sam Rockwell) is banged up for life for the murder of a woman. It's up to his high school drop-out sibling Betty (Hilary Swank) to overturn the case... but first she's got to study the law, uncover new evidence and fight the system. Grey's Anatomy and Dexter director Tony Goldwyn crafts a solid Erin Brockovich-style drama served well by detailed performances from Swank as the never-say-die defender and Rockwell as the suicidal lifer slowly coming apart at the seams. Inspirational stuff, based on a true story.
Carefree chancer Kenny (Rockwell) is a likeable rogue whose petty misdemeanours - brawling in the local bar, stripping to a softrock covers band - are humourously tolerated by the police.
"Cops are drawn to me like bees to honey," he casually observes.
However, when a middle-aged woman is found brutally stabbed and beaten to death in her remote trailer, they - or more specifically shrewish female cop Nancy Taylor (Leo) - don't see the funny side at all.
A quietly-amused Kenny is hauled in, released...and then two years later is re-arrested (during his grandfather's funeral) and this time - on the evidence of his ex-wife and Juliette Lewis's sottish slapper - is charged with murder in the first degree.
It looks like an open and shut case. Kenny allegedly admitted the murder to his former spouse and mother of his young daughter. He also confessed to Lewis. And his blood group matches that of the killer.
However, he says he didn't do it. And little sister Betty (Swank) believes him. In fact, so convinced is she of his innocence that the game gal enrols in college to study for a law degree.
Director Tony Goldwyn can't really go wrong with this Erin Brockovich-style tale of a blue collar babe losing her husband - and custody of two teenage boys - in her single-minded pursuit of a criminal injustice.
Swank is quietly convincing as the school drop-out who - with the help of in-yer-face buddy Abra (Driver, excellent) - methodically overcomes every barrier - absence of forensic evidence, obstructive attorney - to spring her sibling.
Rockwell also impresses as the one-time tearaway (he and sis were farmed out to no less than eight foster homes) and laddish hellraiser who slowly succumbs to bitter despair and suicide as the minutes tick by behind bars.
It's a solid, workmanlike affair with the feel of a high-end TV movie even if every setback is telegraphed with ladles of optimistic laughter and there's never any doubt that Betty's legal eagling will come up trumps.
The Sure-Swank Reinvention?