Closing the Ring
|Closing the Ring|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Richard Attenborough|
|Written by||Peter Woodward|
|Music by||Jeff Danna|
|Edited by||Lesley Walker|
|Distributed by||The Works Distribution|
Closing the Ring is a 2007 romantic drama 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, then aged 83, who died seven years later. The film was released in both the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom on 28 December 2007. Closing the Ring is an international co-production between the United Kingdom, Canada, and United States.
In rural Michigan in 1991, Marie Harris (Neve Campbell) delivers the eulogy at the funeral of her father Chuck (David Alpay), a U.S. Army Air Force veteran who had fought in World War II. The church is full of veterans who knew and loved her father, although her mother Ethel (Shirley MacLaine) is sitting out on the church porch, smoking and nursing a hangover. Ethel is totally indifferent about Chuck's death, which only her friend Jack Etty (Christopher Plummer) seems to understand. Marie is furious with her mother and with her implication that she slept with many of the veterans when they were all young, but then Ethel relents and says that she was always faithful. 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.
A young Ethel (Mischa Barton) was in love with a young farmer, Teddy Gordon (Stephen Amell), who builds a farmhouse with his best friends Jack and Chuck. Her parents think she is dating "good old reliable" Chuck (all three boys are in love with her), but within days of the Pearl Harbor attack, she has accepted Teddy's gold ring and unofficially married him – with Jack and Chuck as their witnesses. The three young men fly out the next day. Teddy and Jack are stationed at RAF Langford Lodge near Belfast, where Jack eventually plans to propose to Eleanor (Kirsty Stuart), an Irish tart.
Jimmy Riley (Martin McCann), Eleanor's young adult grandson, is in 1991 Belfast when he encounters local elder Michael Quinlan (Pete Postlethwaite), who is digging for wreckage of a crashed B-17 aircraft on nearby Black Mountain. Jimmy later finds a ring near the site, becoming determined to return it to the woman from the "Ethel & Teddy" inscription, with the U.S. VA identifying an Ethel that crash victim Teddy Gordon left his belongings to.
Inadvertently caught up in The Troubles, Jimmy flees Belfast, travelling to Michigan to give Ethel the ring. Ethel reveals a wall covered in souvenirs of Teddy, which Jack and Chuck boarded up for her shortly after Teddy's death in June 1944. Marie is shocked and furious to learn that her mother still mourns for Teddy, finally understanding why Ethel thoughtlessly shut out Marie and Chuck. Jack later fills her in on the full story, including his own three failed marriages (his son, Pete (David Alpay), soon realizes that Jack always loved Ethel), Ethel's refusal to leave the house the friends built, and her finally marrying Chuck after 10 years.
Ethel Ann travels to Belfast with Jimmy. As she holds the hand of a dying British soldier caught in an IRA car-bomb attack, Quinlan confesses to Ethel Ann that, as a teenager, he was on Black Mountain when Teddy died. Teddy made Quinlan promise to give her the ring and tell her that she must be free to make her own choice in love. A tearful Quinlan tells her he should have reached out to her back then, and that he spent 50 years looking for the ring that was lost in the final blast that killed Teddy, regretfully (now) thinking she needed it as much as she needed Teddy's dying words. Joining Ethel in Belfast, Jack finally admits that he has always loved her. Ethel is finally able to cry and properly grieve for Teddy. She and Jack embrace each other lovingly, completing her sweep through Teddy and his two best friends.
- Shirley MacLaine as Ethel Ann Harris
- Mischa Barton as Young Ethel Ann
- Christopher Plummer as Jack Etty
- Gregory Smith as Young Jack
- Stephen Amell as Teddy Gordon
- Neve Campbell as Marie Harris
- Pete Postlethwaite as Michael Quinlan
- John Travers as Young Michael Quinlan
- Brenda Fricker as Eleanor Riley
- Kirsty Stuart as Young Eleanor
- David Alpay as Chuck Harris
- Allan Hawco as Peter Etty
- Ian McElhinney as Cathal Thomas
- Martin McCann as Jimmy Riley
Closing the Ring 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."
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."
- Kemp, Stuart. "Works nabs U.K. rights to 'Closing The Ring'." The Hollywood Reporter, 16 October 2007. Retrieved: 26 May 2019.
- Bushell, Laura. "Review of 'Closing the Ring'." BBC, 24 December 2007. Retrieved: 26 May 2019.
- Beck 2016, p. 63.
- "Closing the Ring; Richard Attenborough." Toronto International Film Festival, 16 September 2008. Retrieved: 26 May 2019.
- Malcolm, Derek. "Review of 'Closing the Ring'."] Evening Standard, 2007.
- Morrison, Alan. "Review of 'Closing the Ring'." Empire, 2007.
- French, Philip. "Review of 'Closing the Ring'." The Observer , 30 December 2007. Retrieved: 26 May 2019.
- Leydon, Joe."Review: 'Closing the Ring'." Variety, 24 September 2007. Retrieved: 26 May 2019.