One Ring to Find Them
In the world of entertainment the name Richard Attenborough is one of the biggest, not only a fine actor but director as well who gave us the likes of "A Bridge to Far" and "Gandhi". It is because Attenborough has delivered some big movies that it seems out of place to see it against a romantic melodrama which has echoes of Nicholas Sparks about it. But you can understand why Attenborough chose to direct "Closing the Ring" as it looks at the complications of romance and relationships during WWII but also covering the past and now in this melodramatic story which works on interlinking pieces. No "Closing the Ring" is not an epic Attenborough movie but beneath the melodrama it is a touching one.
As Marie (Neve Campbell - Scream 3) stands to give an eulogy at her father's funeral attended by many of his WWII buddies her mother Ethel Ann (Shirley MacLaine - Rumour Has It) coldly waits outside seemingly indifferent to her husbands death. It frustrates Marie who goes to see her mum's best friend Jack (Christopher Plummer - The Lake House) looking for answers. Mean while in Belfast young lad Jimmy (Martin McCann) meets Mr. Quinlan (Pete Postlethwaite) who is up a mountain trying to dig up the wreckage of a plane which crashed during WWII when Quinlan was a young boy in the fire service. Jimmy discovers a ring inscribed with Ethel's name next to that of Teddy and he sets about tracking Ethel down.
"Closing the Ring" starts in a frustrating manner as we go from the funeral in Michigan to WWII Belfast then the hills of Belfast in the now and then WWII Michigan. It is meant to spike are curiosity as to what connects these places at different times but they are too apart that it doesn't work. But it is worth persisting with because then pieces begin to fall into place and we discover the connections. Now I am not going to go into too much detail but we have this set up of three WWII buddies all who fancy Ethel but she was Teddy's girl and his friend Jack kept his feelings secret whilst Chuck agreed to take care of Ethel if anything happened to Teddy during combat. There is a lot more to it than just that as we also have issues with the IRA, characters we meet from the Belfast segment during WWII re-appear and are pivotal later on and a lot more.
Now as I said I can understand what probably attracted Richard Attenborough to direct this romantic drama because it was a clever look at the complications of romance, relationships and friendships during WWII but not a straight forwards one with the added elements of the events in the now adding complications. But this is a very melodramatic movie with elements especially the ending which comes across as too contrived, too much a work of romantic fiction rather than something which could have happened. It is this side of "Closing the Ring" which seems the most unlikeliest thing that someone like Attenborough would direct and it is this side of the movie where to me he struggles. It's a shame as the various scenes which focus on the romantic complications during WWII are solid but the minute it switches to the now and we focus on Jimmy and then the troubled relationship between Marie and her mum it feels forced.
Forced is the way that some of the acting comes across as unfortunately for me Stephen Amell as Teddy just didn't have the right chemistry with Mischa Barton who plays the younger version of Ethel Ann. On the other hand Gregory Smith is impressive as the young Jack and he is well cast with Christopher Plummer as Jack in the now who works well with Shirley MacLaine who plays Ethel Ann in the now. But then for me Martin McCann's over enthusiastic and naive characterisation of Jimmy seems incredibly out of place in this melodrama as it is too comedic.
What this all boils down to is that "Closing the Ring" is a flawed movie with sweeping melodramatic problems but beneath these issues is a good movie and when you persist with it you do end up captivated by the romantic drama even if it does deliver a contrived ending.