Closing the Ring Review
Simple and effective is all you need to be when the story is right, and with Closing the Ring love, loss and redemption are brought together for a drama spanning from America during World War Two to Ireland in 1991 in exactly that way. Of course it helps when the cast is peppered by Oscar winners and seasoned acting veterans who know how subtlety is an actor’s secret weapon. The emotion depth in Closing the Ring creeps up on you so even the final revelations pack a punch to the heart. Academy Award winning director Richard Attenborough’s tale of three pilots and the woman they all loved is touching and ultimately uplifting.
In 1991, a small American town mourns the passing of Second World War veteran Chuck Norris. His widow, Ethel (MacLaine) seems unable to feel sadness for his passing, neglecting her grieving daughter Marie (Campbell) and becoming silent. But when young Irishman Jimmy (McCann) phones Ethel claiming to have found a ring belonging to her from a plane crash, memories of a lost and happy time are rekindled and secrets unravel before everyone’s eyes.
Switching between 1991 and 1944, Closing the Ring shows how Ethel’s relationship with farmer Teddy (Amell) develops prior to him going to war with best friends Jack (Smith) and Chuck (Alpay). He builds her a house for her to live in, all four enjoy good times, but when they are called into duty after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, Teddy does not make it back alive. Ehtel marries Jack and has Marie, however the ring throws up some tough realities for both Ethel and the aging Chuck (Plummer) to face.
While stories of post-wartime lost love and spurned chances tend to be over sentimentalised, Closing the Ring avoids becoming bogged down in Ethel’s soul searching by using Jimmy’s youthful exuberance to deliberately set it against his innocent yet blunt approach to life. Jimmy says exactly what he thinks and sees – much to the chagrin of Ethel and Chuck who have skirted around their feelings for years. An added IRA sub-plot is a little forced, but needed as a catalyst to the heart-warming finale.
With talent in abundance including Oscar winners MacLaine and Fricker, nominee Postlewaite and the effortlessly commanding Plummer, the performances in Closing the Ring are engrossing. McCann almost steals the movie from them though – his hyperactive performance a loveable one. Despite there being few surprises here, Attenborough’s passive style lets the actors live and breath their characters while leaving us plenty of space to notice the nuances such as the minor gestures and impressive cinematography. Closing the Ring is a little old fashioned in its wartime romance but its emotional pull is impossible to ignore.
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