Paul Potts took the world by storm after he swept to victory in the very first series of Britain’s Got Talent. One Chance takes a look at the story of the mobile phone salesman turned opera singer.
James Corden plays Potts, who grew up being bullied but dreams of singing opera. He thinks he might have his chance when he saves up money to attend a singing school in Italy. However when that doesn’t work out, he’s back in South Wales, stuck in a dead-end job with his unsupportive father telling he needs to give up on his dreams and accept his lot in life.
Fate certainly doesn’t seem to be on his side, whether it’s having an emergency appendectomy shortly before he’s due to star in an amateur version of Aida, or getting run over and having half his bones broken. His wife won’t let him give up though and eventually they see an application form for a new talent show.
Once Chance is pleasant enough but it lacks any bite. It merely ambles along telling its story but never really sells its underdog story all that well. Part of the problem is that while Potts was peddled to the public as a small town salesman who pretty much only sang in the shower until his Britain’s Got Talent audition, that’s not quite true. The film can’t ignore the fact he went to stud singing in Italy and had a masterclass with Pavarotti, or that he performed in several operas (although not as a professional) before BGT. The movie realises it can’t completely sweep this under the carpet but to get around it and still portray Potts as a lovable schmuck loser it all starts to feel contrived (and it completely ignores that he was a Bristol City councillor for several years, as that certainly doesn’t fit its ‘little nobody gets a chance’ storyline).
It’s all a bit timid and as a result it’s sometimes a bit tedious. Part of the issue is that it leaves the talent show too late. The fact he went from mobile phone shop to bestselling artist is more interesting than his life beforehand. Underdog stories like this only fully work if you’re wondering whether they’ll make it in the end (even if you know they probably will because hey, this is a movie). Here you know for a fact he will, so you’re basically watching not a huge amount that’s interesting, with zero tension for what will happen in the end.
There are also a few too many things that seem unnecessarily fake and slightly insulting to the audience’s intelligence. Not least of these is that we’re supposed to believe Potts’ Britain’s Got Talent audition was aired live.
But like I said, it’s okay, going through its tale in a relatively amiable fashion and with a few funny moments. All the way through though it feels like it should be a far more interesting movie than it’s been turned into. Flattening it out into a generic Hollywood-style tale certainly doesn’t help.
Overall Verdict: Paul Potts definitely has an interesting story, but in not knowing quite how to handle it and trying to be amiable rather than good, One Chance is less than it could have been.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac