With his last film, Grey Owl, going straight to vid in the US, veteran director Richard Attenborough goes for full-on American melodrama with Closing the Ring, aimed squarely at luring those US audiences back. Acting stalwarts including Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer head up a cast with the likes of Neve Campbell and Mischa Barton in a looping tale of love and loss in WWII which is so old fashioned in its aspirations, it's hard to see why new audiences would flock to see it.
Michigan in the early 1990s and Ethel Ann (MacLaine) lays her dead husband to rest. Caring more for booze than her husband or the daughter (Campbell) who survives him, Ethel trips down memory lane when an old friend and war veteran Jack (Plummer) drops by. Cue Barton as the youthful Ethel, who secretly marries her first love Teddy (Amell) before he's called up to fight. Meanwhile, in 1990s Dublin, a cantankerous Pete Postlethwaite and his young helper (McCann) dig a round on a hillside, slowly unearthing parts of a B-17 bomber that crashed there during the war, and with them a ring inscribed with Ethel and Teddy's names.
"IT'S A SLOW, SLOW BURNER WITH PLENTY OF HIGHLY EMOTIONAL CONFRONTATIONS"
Shifting around between timeframes, locales and big actors doesn't make Closing the Ring exciting or intriguing. It's a slow, slow burner with plenty of highly emotional confrontations which are for the most part well played (see Campbell's confrontations with her mother), sometimes not (see Plummer playing drunk with unintentionally funny results). The film hangs on themes of lost love, longing and lies buried deep in family history, but with a tonne of sentimentality and mawkishness to carry it really drags its feet.
Closing the Ring is out in the UK on 28th December 2007.