“Closing the Ring”

CLOSING THE RING, Stephen Amell, Mischa Barton, 2007. ©Weinstein Company

_______CLOSING THE RING, Stephen Amell, Mischa Barton, 2007. ©Weinstein Company

By Jae-Ha Kim
Amazon.com
January 27, 2009

A love story spanning more than five decades, Closing the Ring may appeal to fans of The Notebook.

Academy Award-winning director Richard Attenborough (Ghandi) utilizes shifting time frames to tell the story of Ethel Ann and WWII fighter pilot Teddy. The two fall madly in love and secretly marry in a sweet ceremony that is destined for tragedy. When Teddy’s plane is shot down in Belfast, he is discovered by an Irish boy who makes a promise to the dying soldier–he will return the wedding band to Teddy’s young widow in the United States.

Flash forward to the 1990s: An elderly Ethel Ann (Shirley MacLaine) is at her husband Chuck’s funeral. He was never the love of her life and Ethel Ann had always lived her life full of “what ifs.” Her grieving daughter Marie (Neve Campbell) notices the void, but can’t comprehend why her mother has never been happy.

When Teddy’s wedding band is finally returned to Ethel Ann–50 years after his death–the memento opens up a floodgate of emotions, and Ethel Ann is able to get some closure on a part of her life that she has tried so hard to both forget and remember. As a family friend points out to Marie, “Everybody needs to cry, and your mother never did.”

At times slow and uneven, Closing the Ring rings true in the modern-day vignettes. MacLaine is exquisite in her role, as is Christopher Plummer as a longtime friend. But when the scenes flash back to the 1940s, the younger actors don’t share the same on-screen chemistry or charisma.

Mischa Barton is beautiful as the young Ethel Ann, but her moments with Stephen Amell (as Teddy) are a little forced.

Campbell brings intelligence and gravity to her role, but is underused in the film. Viewers can’t help wonder how different the tone of the movie may have been had she been cast as the younger Ethel Ann.

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