Sunday, October 21, 2007

London Film Fest Day 5 - CLOSING THE RING

CLOSING THE RING is an almost entirely piss-poor melodrama that one would expect to find on Channel Five one afternoon rather than at a decent film festival. That it is playing London 2007 is, one suspects, largely the result of Lord Attenborough's close links with the BFI and his general status as beloved old codger of British Film.

The movie inter-cuts three stories. The first is a truly execrable World War Two romance set in the provincial backwaters of the US. Mischa Barton of THE OC fame plays a girl called Ethel who is
loved by three best friends. The one she marries, Teddy, gets blown up in Belfast and she is bequeathed by him to the second, Chuck. She marries Chuck but never loves him or their daughter. The second plot strand takes place in the 1980s. In the US, Ethel is now an old widow played by Shirley Maclaine. She wallows in grief for Teddy and is selfishly ignorant that the final friend, played by Christopher Plummer, is in love with her. The third plot strand also takes place in the 1980s but in Belfast. A charming young kid is being squeezed both by the Special Branch and the Republicans. He digs up Teddy's wedding ring and scampers off to the USA to give it back to Ethel, much to the consternation of her daughter (Neve Campbell) who didn't know she had been married before.

The WW2 plot strand is by far the weakest. The cast have been chosen for looks rather than acting ability, with Stephen Amell as Teddy Gordon (first lover) making Mischa Barton look out-standing by contrast. The script doesn't help. The first love scene contains lines so excruciating to watch I can't imagine what it was like to act them. I also detest the idea of Teddy bequeathing Ethel to Chuck. The concept that women have to be protected from bad news feels very out-dated to modern ears and eyes. The modern day American strand is slightly better acted but no better scripted. Old Ethel just comes across as insufferably selfish. One can't imagine why anyone, let alone three men, would have been in love with her. By far the best of the plot strands is the Belfast strand. Attenborough captures the barbarity of it, and is helped by exceptionally good casting in the form of Brenda Fricker, Pete Postlethwaite and Martin McCann who steals every scene as young, naive Jimmy Reilly.

Overall, we get a transparently manipulative tear-jerker that, rather embarassingly, fails to jerk any tears. I couldn't have cared less about any of these characters, except for plucky young Reilly. The conceit upon with the movie hangs seems unrealistic and if realistic then unsympathetic. One final criticism is that in his pre-screening introduction, Attenborough claimed, in a superior tone of voice, that the movie was free of gratuitous sex and violence. That's not true. We're not twenty minutes in before Barton has to get her tits out and there's a violent scene towards the end that exists not to make a wider political or philosophical point but merely to get two aged lovers together.

CLOSING THE RING played Toronto and London 2007.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the vulgar comments and spoilers you twat.