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One Chance - Review

One Chance

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

IT PRETTY much comes with the territory that biopics or film’s rooted in history take artistic licence with the facts. But while sometimes understandable within the constraints of time and dramatic flow, the decision to play fast and loose with the truth is particularly baffling in One Chance‘s case.

The film tells the story of how former Carphone Warehouse manager Paul Potts became one of the UK’s biggest opera singers after appearing on Britain’s Got Talent.

His story is remarkable, the film less so. True, it contains all the feel-good ingredients needed to ‘inspire’ audiences and garner lazy comparisons to The Full Monty or Billy Elliot.

But the film’s desire to embellish the truth lends it a hugely manipulative feel that feels in no way justified.
In real life, Potts overcame childhood bullies, a tumour, appendicitis and even a collision with a car to prevail. And these are accounted for in the film.

But while he did sing for Pavarotti, he didn’t do so in Venice and – more importantly – didn’t choke, thereby falsifying one of the film’s key dramatic moments. He also grew up in Bristol and served as a Lib Dem councillor for a short period, two chapters that aren’t even acknowledged (but which do explain why James Corden is one of the only cast members not to adopt a Welsh accent).

It’s a shame as there’s plenty to like in One Chance, including a generally endearing central performance from Corden (he lip syncs the songs) and a standout one from Alexandra Roach as his girlfriend and eventual wife.

There is also a decent mix of comedy and drama and one or two genuinely moving and inspirational moments.

But director David Frankel – whose career has gone from the acerbic high of The Devil Wears Prada to the schmaltz-laden low of Hope Springs – seems to want to continually push the film into places it doesn’t need to go. His film overdoses on big moments when a little more restraint would have done.

And this extends to some of the performances with Colm Meaney’s bitter and sceptical dad particularly poorly drawn until his ‘crowd-pleasing’ about turn and Mackenzie Crook occasionally straining a little too hard to mine more laughs.

One Chance isn’t terrible and certainly has its plus points. But in opting for the kind of overkill that is something of a Simon Cowell trademark (and yes, he produces too), it also feels too neatly packaged and unnecessarily enhanced.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 100mins
UK Release Date: October 25, 2013