Closing the Ring

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Closing the Ring
Closing the ring.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Attenborough
Produced by
Written by Peter Woodward
Music by Jeff Danna
Cinematography Roger Pratt
Edited by Lesley Walker
Distributed by The Works Distribution[1]
Release date
  • 14 September 2007 (2007-09-14) (Toronto International Film Festival)
  • 28 December 2007 (2007-12-28) (United Kingdom)
Running time
113 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States[2]
Language English

Closing the Ring is a 2007 film directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer, Mischa Barton, Stephen Amell, Neve Campbell, Pete Postlethwaite, and Brenda Fricker. It was the final film directed by Attenborough before his death seven years later.

The film was released in both the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom on 28 December 2007.[3]


The film opens in 1991, with the funeral of a World War II veteran. The man's daughter Marie (Neve Campbell) delivers the eulogy to a church full of veterans who knew and loved her father, while her mother Ethel Ann (Shirley MacLaine) is sitting out on the church porch, smoking and nursing a hangover. When Ethel Ann begins acting strangely, only her friend Jack (Christopher Plummer) seems to understand why. It quickly emerges that there is a lot Marie does not know about her mother's past and the true story of her love life.

The movie flips to a time when Ethel Ann was young, lively, and optimistic (young Ethel Ann played by Mischa Barton). She is in love with a young farmer, Teddy Gordon (played by Stephen Amell), who goes off to war with his best friends Jack (Gregory Smith) and Chuck (David Alpay), but not all of them make it back alive. The plot lines intertwine with the story of a young Ulsterman in Belfast, Jimmy, who finds a ring in the wreckage of a crashed B-17 and is determined to return it to the woman who once owned it.

Inadvertently caught up in cross-border troubles, Jimmy flees Belfast, travelling to Michigan to give Ethel Ann the ring. Ethel Ann reveals a wall covered in souvenirs of Teddy, which Jack and Chuck boarded up for her in 1944. Marie is shocked and furious to learn that her mother loved not Chuck, but Teddy's memory. Ethel Ann travels to Belfast with Jimmy. She holds the hand of a dying British soldier caught in an IRA car-bomb attack. Quinlan (Pete Postlethwaite) finally confesses to Ethel Ann that he was on the hill when Teddy died, and that Teddy's dying words freed Ethel Ann from her promise to love him forever, that she was "free to make her own choice". A tearful Quinlan tells her he spent 50 years looking for the ring that was lost in the final blast that killed Teddy, and is filled with regret for never having fulfilled his promise to inform Ethel of Teddy's dying words. Joining Ethel Ann in Belfast, Jack finally admits that he has always loved her. Ethel Ann is finally able to cry and properly grieve. They share a long hug (and it's implied they finally begin a romance).

Main cast[edit]


Closing the Ring was filmed in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

The B-17 used in this movie was the Yankee Lady from the Yankee Air Museum, which was also used in the movie Tora! Tora! Tora!.[citation needed] It was flown by Captain D. Eugene Wedekemper.

Festival appearances[edit]

The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 14 September 2007.[4] The film received its UK premiere at the London Film Festival on 21 October 2007.


The film attracted a mixed critical response.

According to the Toronto International Film Festival it "exemplifies the balance between the epic and the intimate that has been the hallmark of Lord Richard Attenborough's venerable career...Attenborough traces multiple themes with ease and grace, giving his celebrated ensemble cast ample opportunity to shine". It concluded that the film is "a remarkable tale of love, loss and redemption that stands proudly among the films of one of the cinema's living legends. Deftly weaving together different eras and locales, Attenborough has produced another grand canvas about the emotional repercussions of a wartime promise."[4]

Derek Malcolm of the Evening Standard wrote that it "is well-acted throughout and it has a romantic appeal that is not to be sneered at.."[5]

Alan Morrison of Empire wrote "After recent disappointments Sir Dickie Attenborough is back on better, albeit old-fashioned, form."[6]

Philip French of The Observer wrote "Woodward's script is more than a little contrived, as well as over-emphatic. But Attenborough has infused it with warmth and mature insight, and older members of the audience are likely to find it extremely moving."[7]

Laura Bushell of BBCi Films called the film a "looping tale of love and loss in WWII which is so old fashioned in its aspirations, it's hard to see why new audiences would flock to see it."

Variety called the film "decades-skipping schmaltz" and an "aggressively bittersweet yet oddly uninvolving drama."[8]


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