One Chance (2 stars)

One Chance

Unsatisfying biopic about the Britain's Got Talent star Paul Potts

The rise of Paul Potts from shop manager to one of the UK’s biggest opera singers following his success on Britain’s Got Talent is a great story. Sadly, in the hands of director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada, Marley & Me) it doesn’t make for a particularly good film. Produced by Simon Cowell and Harvey Weinstein, One Chance pulls out every stop to make Potts’ story as inspirational as possible, but its decision to take a relaxed attitude to the truth is disappointing.

Potts did overcome many obstacles on his path towards singing success, including childhood bullying and several health scares. While such chapters are included, there are still some embellishments that feel totally unnecessary. A pivotal scene in which he chokes in front of Pavarotti, for instance, never happened (even though he did perform in front of the opera master in real life). There is also no mention of Potts’ life in Bristol where he was born and grew up and which would, perhaps, have explained why James Corden, who plays Potts, is the only person in the film not speaking in a Welsh accent.

That’s not to say Frankel’s film isn’t completely without merit. Corden is generally amiable in the lead role (he lip-synchs the songs), while Alexandra Roach stands out as his long-suffering girlfriend and eventual wife. The film is also structured as such that at times it does tug at the heart-strings. However, once you properly delve into the facts concerning Potts’ life and career, One Chance can’t help but feel emotionally manipulative and contrived, not least in its depiction of Potts’s relationship with his dad (played one-dimensionally by Colm Meaney). For all its feel-good intent, the film is ultimately generic and dispiriting.

General release from Fri 25 Oct.

'One Chance' Trailer

One Chance

  • 2 stars
  • 2013
  • UK / US
  • 1h 43min
  • Directed by: David Frankel
  • Written by: Justin Zackham
  • Cast: James Corden, Colm Meaney, Mackenzie Crook

Heavily fictionalised depiction of the rise to fame of Paul Potts (Corden), 2007 winner of Britain's Got Talent. Aiming to be as inspirational as possible, the many fictional embellishments make it seem manipulative, and although Corden is generally amiable and Roach stands out, it's ultimately generic and dispiriting.