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  Publicity Stills of
"Closing The Ring"
(Courtesy of Cathay-Keris Films)

Genre: Drama/Romance
Director: Richard Attenborough
Cast: Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer, Mischa Barton, Stephen Amell, Neve Campbell, Pete Postlethwaite, Brenda Fricker, Gregory Smith, John Travers
RunTime: 1 hr 58 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: NC-16 (Some Nudity)
Official Website: http://www.closingtheringmovie.co.uk/

Opening Day: 25 September 2008


From Academy Award®-winning director Richard Attenborough (Gandhi, Shadowlands) comes Closing the Ring, a deeply moving love story of an American woman who honors a wartime promise of love with a lifetime of heartache until the discovery of a gold ring reawakens her. Spanning two continents and half a century, Closing the Ring stars Academy Award®-winner Shirley MacLaine (In Her Shoes, Terms of Endearment), Christopher Plummer (A Beautiful Mind, The Insider), Mischa Barton (television's The O.C.), Academy Award®-nominee Pete Postlethwaite (The Constant Gardener, In the Name of the Father) and Academy Award®-winner Brenda Fricker (My Left Foot, The Field).

During World War II, more than 300,000 American military personal passed through or were based in Northern Ireland. On June 1, 1944, ten of these young American servicemen died when their B-17 bomber lost its bearings in heavy fog and crashed into Belfast's Cave Hill. Over fifty years later, a news item about a discovery at the crash site of one airman's wedding ring struck a chord in writer Peter Woodward, son of the actor Edward Woodward, inspiring him to write Closing the Ring. Richard Attenborough calls it 'unequivocally one of the most exciting, most original, most authentic first screenplays I've ever read.'

Movie Review:

If you like movies along the lines of The Engagement or the more recent Atonement, Closing the Ring might very well be your cup of tea. A weak cup of tea, but nonetheless…

The script, written by Peter Woodward, son of actor Edward Woodward, was inspired by real-life events: In 1944, the entire American crew of a B-17 bomber was killed in a plane crash on Belfast’s Cave Hill, and in a later news report, a wedding ring that was found amidst the debris of the plane was said to have belonged to one of the dead airmen.

And that’s really the gist of the story. The film relies on meandering flashbacks to narrate its story, and as it races to and fro between the past and present, the fragments of the characters’ memories slowly piece together.

We have young, radiant and lovely Ethel Ann (played by Mischa Barton), and her three stooges: Jack or “Brunette 1” (Georgory Smith), Chuck or “Brunette 2” (David Alpay), and Teddy or “one and only Blondie” (Stephen Amell). It’s easy to guess whom Ethel Ann picks to have sexy times with; of course, it is Teddy, the blond and all-American boy who grabs her tender heart. Also, the remaining two left of the crew, both compromising men who value camaraderie over anything, are silently in love with Ethel Ann.

Fast forward time, and we have a bitter and older Ethel Ann (Shirley MacLaine), at her husband’s funeral, of which if you observed properly at the beginning of the film, has a portrait of Chuck. So Chuck’s dead, and Teddy’s either dead (more likely) or secretly alive somewhere. We soon find out that Jack (Christopher Plummer) is still alive, and that he serves as filler until the last few minutes or so.

This is played along with the intertwining story of a young chap named Jimmy (Martin McCann), who discovers the ring and is determined to return it to its rightful owner.

As you can see, it’s not really that hard to make this plot work, given that it has been done to death over the years, and really, what’s left to work on (or go wrong in some cases) is the script and characterization.

And unsurprisingly, it fails on that level. Throw in a dash of bad and stiff acting (mostly from Barton and Amell), portions of contrived scriptwriting, a smack of forced lines and viola! You’ll get Closing the Ring.

Firstly, for audience to be swept into the whole “war kills love of one’s life” shebang, there has to be a solid enough characterization –and acting – of the leads to convince the audience that their love is worthy enough for them to believe that it will transcend time even many years after one’s death, and thereafter, earn their sympathy.

What we have though are scenes of playful caressing, unnecessary nude scenes, superficial conversations about pledging their love to one another, AND nothing to show us why, how and where is the attraction between the two leads. Believe me, I have seen better romance movies, and they are not even about surviving some big and evil disaster like a war. And this is where Closing the Ring fails. Also, if the romance doesn’t sell, no one gives a crap if the special effects are not too shady or whether the grand orchestral music playing in the background is actually pretty soothing to the ear.

After all, it is supposed to be about a believable love that has been disrupted tragically by the war and lives on in spite of that, and not a film about the repulsive effects of war. So where is the love as promised?

Although it falls short on being an epic love/war film, it’s definitely watchable if you are looking for a light film – It’s definitely not a “first-date” sort of movie, unless you are not looking to impress. Just don’t expect yourself to come out of the cinema feeling overwhelmed by the power of love like how you were promised by the copywriting (“Discover the love of a lifetime”) on the poster.

Movie Rating:

(Discover the love of a… what?)

Review by Casandra Wong


. Atonement (2007)

. Flyboys (2006)

. In Her Shoes (2005)

. The Constant Gardener (2005)

. The Lake House (2006)

. The Notebook (2004)


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