It would be far too easy to take the cynic’s axe to One Chance were it not so clearly a film wearing its sizeable heart on its formulaic sleeve.
That it’s a biopic about the first ever winner of Britain’s Got Talent and is produced by Simon Cowell prompts fears of shameless self-promotion. Thankfully though, screenwriter Justin Zackham’s focus is spent more on the life of Paul Potts preceding his fateful, and well viewed, audition than on said television franchise. James Corden plays the unlikely singing sensation perfectly. It’s his engaging performance, together with Alexandra Roach’s (playing his girlfriend/wife, Juile-Ann), that lifts this film well above some of its more trite displays of crowd-pleasing. In fairness to the fi lmmakers, Potts’s real life did adhere quite closely to many well worn conventions of the Billy Elliot-type film that One Chance so obviously aligns itself with. As a shy, overweight boy Potts was bullied well into early adulthood. His passion for opera singing amidst the steel-working milieu he lived didn’t help matters much. After each promising opportunity is afforded (attending Venice’s famed school of Opera and being selected to sing for his idol Pavarotti) he encounters a setback (usually ending in surgery). His encouraging mother (Julie Walters) is as sweet as his discouraging father (Colm Meaney) is gruff. Then seemingly at his lowest, the idea to make a life-changing decision literally pops up in his face. The preordained outcome we already know. Director David Frankel plays it safe with what is, in the end, fairly lightweight entertainment aimed at the sort of audience who more than likely watch the ‘…Got Talent’ shows. It is enjoyable, predictable and you probably won’t remember it in a year’s time, but I’m always grateful that these middle of-the-road films still get made. Rated PG