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Film reviews

Film review of 'One Chance' : Not quite a Traviata, but Pot-holes need Aida

“ I can’t see my Julz for the trees ... or is it Cowell’s ego?”

January 19, 2014

by Kieran Toms

One chance is a comedic biopic based on the Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts (James Corden). Because that fact is trumpeted in the publicity surrounding its release, you feel you know how it will turn out. Luckily, the narrative manages to dodge any potential pitfalls this could cause by focusing on Potts’s life prior to his success on the show.
The film depicts this life as one of a perennial struggle against the confines of his surroundings. His ever-present dream of being an opera singer proves unpopular with his bullying schoolmates and his stereotypically working-class ‘hard days graft, pint with the lads’ father. He perseveres, and One Chance sees Corden’s seemingly confidence-lacking character journey to Venice to sing for Pavarotti, struggling through illness to sing in an amateur performance of Aida and attempting to impress his nearest and dearest in his Welsh hometown by singing at a local talent show.

The film is at its best when it embraces the quirky, slow-paced British humour that often characterises British sitcoms. Mackenzie Crook does a stellar turn as Braddon, Potts’s eccentric boss and only friend. Elsewhere, Potts’ internet girlfriend turned wife, Julz (Alexandra Roach), is excellent, providing the down-to-earth support that proves vital to his eventual success.

Where One Chance falls down is the constant injection of schmaltz – either led by the helpful pointer of overzealously sentimental strings, or by the use of Potts’s singing voice as a device that seemingly has the magical ability to solve any problem.

The title of the film is also misleading. Potts’s voice and undoubted talent bring him several chances, but frequently, they don’t turn out as planned.

  It is this which makes the rather rushed appearance on Britain’s Got Talent, as the unlikely saviour of his career, jarring. This serves to make accepting the film’s multiple flaws more difficult and detracts  from the film’s ability to come across as it was intended: a gentle, amusing comedy about small-town life rubbing up against big dreams.  Only if you really want the latter and are willing to cope with the former, would it be worth spending an unchallenging couple of hours with One Chance.

One Chance (11)
Dir: David Frankel; UK comedy, 2013, 103 minutes; James Corden, Alexandra Roach, Julie Walters, Mackenzie Crook
Premiered January 16
Playing Nationwide