Paul Potts’ biopic One Chance sounds like it is going to be the tearjerker of the year when you read the synopsis but it is a delightful gem of a movie that any discerning cinema goer will regret not choosing to see it on the big screen.
It is an unassuming movie about the true story of Paul Potts, a shy, bullied shop assistant with a talent for singing opera who became an instant YouTube phenomenon after being chosen by Simon Cowell for Britain’s Got Talent. That’s pretty much sums up exactly how much I knew about Paul Potts until I saw the movie. I didn’t know he’d won, released several CDs or even had a movie made about his life. You don’t need to know anything about the man, his music, opera, or even the price of eggs, but this movie will enthrall you from beginning to end as it depicts his eternal devotion to opera and his single-minded determination & optimism to become an opera singer himself. Unfortunately, life is never that easy, and while Paul Potts may have had the talent and determination to become an opera singer it seems as though every time he gets close to realising his dream, either life or karma has a way of setting him back, almost to the point where he decides to give up the ghost and resign himself to a life of selling cellphones.
One chance is a poignant movie as it explores the setbacks that everyone has to endure by varying degrees in life. Paul was bullied horrendously as a child, teenager and young adult; to make matters worse the criticism also came from his unsupportive father who disparages his every decision, but Paul has a plucky sense of humour that makes the connection between how the more successful he becomes the worse the bullying gets, and the worse the bullying gets the more determined he becomes to pursue his dreams. His incredible talent brings him so close to greatness so many times that he can almost taste it but his lack of confidence, or unfortunate propensity for being extremely accident prone, scupper his chances. His life-story includes being forced to take a job that he hates in a foundry (worse than being a cellphone salesperson!), at times being unable to work due to medical incidents and relying on his wife for financial support. Naturally his spirit has been crushed because he is a sensitive man with a musical talent that he cannot express. He’s not just a victim of circumstance but a prisoner in his own life.
It is incredibly funny because everyone has been at that lowpoint in their life, more times than they probably care to remember, where giving up on life would be a more practical choice than picking themselves up, dusting themselves off, persuing their dreams and giving life one more chance. If you don’t dream big you will only achieve small things. This is where One Chance strikes a fine line between exploring the sadness of one man’s life and uses it to reflect the same everyone experiences in their lives. It doesn’t matter what your personal history entails but One Chance reminds the viewer to overcome whatever is holding them back and jump into the fast lane of their desires. Paul Potts must have a quirky sense of humour because his pain if often juxtaposed against his amusing perspective of how or why things pan out. Fortunately, it is the humour that keeps One Chance moving on in a lighthearted way. There are many one-liners peppering the plot but my personal favourite is what he says when he meets Pavarotti- but I won’t spoil the punchline.
One Chance includes a reputable cast that does the script justice. James Corden is perfectly cast as Paul Potts. He’s not a recognizable actor, and he’s not attractive in the conventional sense of movie stars, but he skillfully manages to portray a man with whom the audience can empathise with, and root for, as he overcomes adversity to persue his dream. His parents are played by the very solid Colm Meaney and Julie Walters- we’ve seen them play these roles before but they were perfectly cast. Alexandra Roach brings a meaningful depth to her role as his wife who supports and encourages him to persue his dreams. Their love story also carries the movie without making it a hopeless romance.
What I loved about this movie is the full disclosure about his life which includes the grittiness of adversity and addresses human issues without making them melodramatic. Paul Potts exposes the profound sadness that he has encounted in life without using it manipulatively to buy the audiences’ sympathy but ultimately it is story about how the triumpth of the human spirit. It is also an unexpected comedy that teaches us to laugh at life, laugh at ourselves and to be a little kinder to each other.
It is an unassuming movie that creates a hugely rewarding emotional feelgood buzz that you will remember for a while to come.
There are so many highlights in this movie that I can’t share them but it’s safe to say that they run from beginning to end. Don’t be late because you don’t want to miss the opening scene as it sets the tone for the rest of the movie but the Pavarotti scene is brilliant and the scene where he auditions for Simon Cowell on Britain’s Got Talent was the best execution of that moment which became an internet sensation. I kept wondering who would play Simon Cowell throughout the movie, and I must admit that the directors got that just right!
I’ve seen it twice in one week and it gets a five star rating from me.
From the director of The Devil Wears Prada, ONE CHANCE is the remarkable and inspirational true story of Paul Potts, a shy, bullied shop assistant by day and an amateur opera singer by night. Paul became an instant YouTube phenomenon after being chosen by Simon Cowell for ‘Britain’s Got Talent.’ Wowing audiences worldwide with his phenomenal voice, Paul went on to win ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ and the hearts of millions. Fresh from celebrating his Tony Award-winning Broadway run in ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’, BAFTA winner James Corden (THE HISTORY BOYS) stars as Paul Potts and is supported by an acclaimed ensemble cast that includes Julie Walters (MAMMA MIA!, CALENDAR GIRLS, BILLY ELLIOT), Mackenzie Crook (THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN), Colm Meaney (GET HIM TO THE GREEK), Jemima Rooper (KINKY BOOTS), Valeria Bilello (PAZZE DI ME) and rising star Alexandra Roach (THE IRON LADY). Directed by David Frankel (THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, MARLEY & M
E, HOPE SPRINGS) and written by Justin Zackham (THE BUCKET LIST), ONE CHANCE is produced by Mike Menchel, Brad Weston, Kris Thykier (KICK-ASS, THE DEBT, I GIVE IT A YEAR), Simon Cowell, and executive produced by Bob and Harvey Weinstein.
You can buy Paul Pott’s music online from Loot.co.za
Relive all of Paul Potts’s greatest moments through his One Chance Music CD.