The film was released in both the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom on 28 December 2007.
Rural Michigan, 1991, and Marie delivers the eulogy at the funeral of her father Chuck, a World War II Army Air Force veteran. The church is full of veterans who knew and loved her father, though her mother Ethel Ann (Ethel) is sitting out on the church porch, smoking and nursing a hangover. Ethel is totally indifferent about Chuck's death, which only her friend Jack seems to understand. Marie is furious with her mother and with her implication that she slept with many of the veterans when they were all young, but then Ethel relents and says that was always faithful. It quickly emerges that there is a lot Marie does not know about her mother's past and the true story of her love life.
The movie flashes back to a young Ethel. She is in love with a young farmer, Teddy Gordon, who builds a farmhouse with his best friends Jack and Chuck. Her parents think she is dating "good old reliable" Chuck (all three boys are in love with her), but within days of the Pearl Harbor attack, she has accepted Teddy's gold ring and unofficially married him – with Jack and Chuck as their witnesses. The three young men fly out the next day. Teddy and Jack are stationed at RAF Langford Lodge near Belfast, where Jack eventually plans to propose to Eleanor, an Irish tart.
The story jumps to Jimmy, Eleanor's young adult grandson, in 1991 Belfast. Jimmy wanders across local elder Michael Quinlan, who is digging for wreckage of a crashed B-17 on nearby Black Mountain. Jimmy later finds a ring near the site, becoming determined to return it to the woman from the "Ethel & Teddy" inscription, with the U.S. VA identifying an Ethel that crash victim Teddy Gordon left his belongings to.
Inadvertently caught up in The Troubles, Jimmy flees Belfast, travelling to Michigan to give Ethel the ring. Ethel reveals a wall covered in souvenirs of Teddy, which Jack and Chuck boarded up for her shortly after Teddy's June 1944 death. Marie is shocked and furious to learn that her mother still mourns for Teddy, finally understanding why Ethel thoughtlessly shut out Marie and Chuck. Jack later fills her in on the full story, including his own three failed marriages (his son, Pete, soon realizes that Jack always loved Ethel), Ethel's refusal to leave the house the friends built, and her finally marrying Chuck after ten years.
Ethel Ann travels to Belfast with Jimmy. As she holds the hand of a dying British soldier caught in an IRA car-bomb attack, Quinlan confesses to Ethel Ann that, as a teenager, he was on Black Mountain when Teddy died. Teddy made Quinlan promise to give her the ring and tell her that she must be free to make her own choice in love. A tearful Quinlan tells her he should have reached out to her back then, and that he spent 50 years looking for the ring that was lost in the final blast that killed Teddy, regretfully (now) thinking she needed it as much as she needed Teddy's dying words. Joining Ethel in Belfast, Jack finally admits that he has always loved her. Ethel is finally able to cry and properly grieve for Teddy. She and Jack embrace each other lovingly, completing her sweep through Teddy and his two best friends.
Closing the Ring was filmed in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
The B-17G used in the movie was Yankee Lady from the Yankee Air Museum, which was also used in the movie Tora! Tora! Tora!. It was flown by Captain D. Eugene Wedekemper.
The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 14 September 2007. The film received its UK premiere at the London Film Festival on 21 October 2007.
The film attracted a mixed critical response.
According to the Toronto International Film Festival it "exemplifies the balance between the epic and the intimate that has been the hallmark of Lord Richard Attenborough's venerable career...Attenborough traces multiple themes with ease and grace, giving his celebrated ensemble cast ample opportunity to shine". It concluded that the film is "a remarkable tale of love, loss and redemption that stands proudly among the films of one of the cinema's living legends. Deftly weaving together different eras and locales, Attenborough has produced another grand canvas about the emotional repercussions of a wartime promise."
Derek Malcolm of the Evening Standard wrote that it "is well-acted throughout and it has a romantic appeal that is not to be sneered at.."
Alan Morrison of Empire wrote "After recent disappointments Sir Dickie Attenborough is back on better, albeit old-fashioned, form."
Philip French of The Observer wrote "Woodward's script is more than a little contrived, as well as over-emphatic. But Attenborough has infused it with warmth and mature insight, and older members of the audience are likely to find it extremely moving."
Laura Bushell of BBCi Films called the film 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."
Variety called the film "decades-skipping schmaltz" and an "aggressively bittersweet yet oddly uninvolving drama."