'Closing The Ring' a dopey love story

LIZ BRAUN - Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:14 AM ET

Closing the Ring may star Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer, but all you'll remember from the movie are Mischa Barton's bare breasts.

They are very nice, as breasts go, but mammaries should fall in line somewhere after storytelling, at least in this sort of film. For those who feel otherwise, there's always Showgirls.

Closing the Ring is a story that cuts back and forth across time and place.

It opens in the 1990s, at a funeral in Michigan; a WWII vet has died, and his widow Ethel (MacLaine) sits outside the church having a cigarette.

Her daughter (Neve Campbell), gives a eulogy.

Ethel's old friend Jack (Christopher Plummer) hangs about in a protective fashion. Ethel seems oddly unmoved by her husband's death.

Suddenly, the scene switches to Northern Ireland. A man named Michael Quinlan (Pete Postlethwaite) is digging up the rural landscape around Belfast. He's searching for bits of a plane that crashed in the area during the war -- a crash he witnessed as an adolescent.

What he's really searching for is a wedding ring that he promised a dying soldier he'd return to the soldier's bride back home in America.

Having switched from the U.S. to the U.K., Closing the Ring now begins to go back and forth in time.

Flashback to the 1940s. A young Ethel (now played by Mischa Barton and her perky breasts), hangs out with her airman buddies -- here are Jack (now played by Gregory Smith) and Ethel's late husband as young men, and here's Teddy (Stephen Amell), the real love of Ethel's life.

Teddy and Ethel are determined to marry, even though her parents won't approve, and Teddy is even building a house to live in with Ethel.

The war looms. Ethel promises to love Teddy for all time.

Meanwhile, over in Belfast, where it's 1941, our digging man is a teenager and the war is all mixed up with local IRA activity.

Anyway, you won't care.

The point is that all these people, Irish or American, eventually cross paths.

When a plane full of American soldiers crashes into Belfast's Cave Hill, the young Irishman makes his promise to a dying man to return that ring, but 50 years pass before he can make that happen.

Ethel's promise to Teddy, that she'll love him forever, is likewise a tough one to fulfil.

She spends most of her adult life living in the past, incapable of loving the people around her.

MacLaine gives a wonderful performance as Ethel, but her character is written as such a diehard romantic twit that it's impossible to care if she finds a happy ending or not.

Closing the Ring has lovely performances from the mature cast members and somewhat less impressive work from the younger actors.

As the 1940s Ethel and Teddy, Mischa Barton and Stephen Amell have zero chemistry, which makes it difficult to invest in their relationship.

As well, the switching time periods and locations do not add depth or interest to the story -- they just add up to a clunky narrative.

All the extraneous detail cannot obscure what is a simple and mostly dopey love story, and a love story that unfolds in an oddly amateurish fashion.

Closing the Ring is the sort of film that has such actors as Brenda Fricker and Neve Campbell in the cast and gives them absolutely nothing to do.

Too bad -- but file this one under poor storytelling.

(This film is rated 14-A)


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