Closing the Ring


There is no doubt in my mind which type of movie articles are hardest to write. I just hate it when I have to review a competent, well-intentioned, good-hearted film that I really hated to watch. And now I have to do it again.

What is there to write about? I have no enthusiasm to share, but I don't want to dis the film the way I would with a shameless, just-for-profit zombie film, because the people who created this movie had sincere hearts and high aspirations. The film was directed by Lord Richard Attenborough, who once directed some fine films, including Gandhi, a Best Picture and Best Director winner. I also enjoy Young Winston, Chaplin, Oh What a Lovely War, and Magic. As a producer, Lord Dick helped to create some of my favorite offbeat films when I was in high school and college: The L-Shaped Room, Whistle Down the Wind (which people should watch at Christmas instead of It's a Wonderful Life), and Seance on a Wet Afternoon. Lord Dick has given my life a lot of great moments, so I really don't want to go negative on him.

But I do think it's probably time for him to retire gracefully at 84. Closing the Ring will probably not be released theatrically in North America. Attenborough's previous film, The Grey Owl, also had to endure the ignominy of a straight-to-video American release. The film before that was the one where Chris O'Donnell played Ernest Hemingway, and it's rated a lowly 5.5 at IMDb. Lord Dick's last successful film was made 15 years ago.

Closing the Ring is a multi-generational romance which is split between two different locations (North Carolina and Belfast) and two different eras (WW2 and now). In 1943, a dying American airman gives a ring to an Irish local to return to his girlfriend in the states. Fifty years later, a man finds the ring, learns its history, and finally tracks down the girlfriend. The portion which takes place in the present stars all sorts of elderly actors of the kind who might call Larry King "kid," and whose names usually appear in print after the adjective "distinguished." There's Christopher Plummer, Pete Postlethwaite, and Shirley MacLaine. It's a six-hanky film about lost love, and it's filled with romance, emotion, sentiment, warmth, wisdom and insight. Some people loved it, like The Urban Cinefile, in which reviewer Andrew Urban wrote a glowing review which will go a long way toward telling you whether you'll like it:

"Rich with elements that cannot and should not be summarised here, Closing the Ring abounds with truths about the human condition that are both beautiful and painful, noble and savage. The story revolves around promises made by lovers that cannot and should not be kept if keeping them denies the joy of living. There are several threads of love in the story, all of them to do with romantic love of the first order, yet the film has grit and pain and suffering in spades. It also has a sense of humour about character, including a lovely performance by Brenda Fricker as grandma Reilly, whose youthful wartime romantic escapades are revealed in embarrassing detail. It's a film that is epic in emotional terms, and perhaps old fashioned in the best possible sense - dealing with the lifelong impact of our most powerful emotions, as experienced through the lives of the people next door."

On the other hand, I couldn't make it through more than fifteen minutes at a time without a break. It's like watching Lawrence Welk. You might aptly re-title it Bored of the Rings and market it to young people as an insomnia cure. The target audience must consist of romantic pre-teens who have never seen any similar romances, and women in their 70s and 80s who are nostalgic for the way films used to be. On the other hand, to be fair, I could enjoy this film under certain circumstances. It would require the following:

(1) I would need to acquire a minimum of one vagina;

(2) I would have to buy a time machine and be transported to 1959;

(3) I would have to watch this film at the old RKO Palace theater on Clinton Avenue. (It was downtown and incredibly ornate, with one screen and 3000 seats. See below. More here.).

That would work, because Closing the Ring is not a bad film. It is simply a chick-flick which is out of its own time.

DVD Info

There is, at press time, no Region 1 information available. The Region 2 release can be ordered from






2 The Guardian (of 5 stars)
2 BBC  (of 5 stars)
27 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)

It is not as bad as those numbers would lead one to believe.





7.6 IMDB summary (of 10)

But it is not as good as that number would lead one to believe.






Box Office Mojo. It grossed about $300,000 in the UK, after opening in the week between Christmas and the New Year. It never reached more than 40 theaters and never placed higher than 19th.





  • Mischa Barton showed her breasts and did full rear nudity.





Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Competent, multi-hanky fare.