One Chance (2014)
Critic Consensus: Predictable and sentimental, yet thoroughly agreeable, One Chance is an unapologetic crowd-pleaser that achieves its admittedly modest goals.
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Critic Reviews for One Chance
Feel-good stories feel good for a reason, and this one is practically operatic.
David Frankel's film reduces an extraordinary life to a predictable template of bullying, resolve, success, disappointment, and platitudes - a pattern repeated two or three times until the genuinely moving finale.
Delivers a screen version of Mr. Potts's life with straightforward crowd-pleasing instincts and more than a dollop of schmaltz.
Audience Reviews for One Chance
One Chance is pleasant, but it isn't innovative enough to make this different from a dozen other rags to riches stories you've already seen fifty times before. The story really botches the ending too. The fact that Paul succeeded is already a foregone conclusion so the inevitable climax simply becomes a waiting game for Paul's TV triumph. Actor James Corden plays the lead character with a lot of humanity. The comic is set to take over Craig Ferguson's place on The Late Late Show in 2015. Corden ably lip- syncs while the real Paul Potts supplies the vocals. That all works. But then actual judging panel footage from the Britain's Got Talent TV show is used, Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan's historic responses are intercut with footage of actor Corden reacting to their evaluations. The assembled editing is not organic. The pastiche drains the moment of the drama of Paul intenerating with real people. If this were the only problem, I might've forgiven the misstep. The problem is this is merely the icing of an issue on a very uninspired cake.
I will say that One Chance is a British comedy drama, not just comedy as listed. It is a film about Britain's Got Talent winner Paul Potts, directed by David Frankel and written by Justin Zackham. This hugely inspiring biopic chronicles British tenor Paul Potts' meteoric rise to stardom via the television program Britain's Got Talent. I liked the fresh approach to comedy by the director David Frankel in The Devil Wears Prada and I wanted to see this film too, expecting the same. It was different, but not too bad at all. This was endlessly charming, against-the-odds success story which was screened in the Special Presentation section at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. The film was shot in Italy and the United Kingdom, and the soundtrack by Theodore Shapiro was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song - motion picture.
The story of Paul (James Corden) was introduced by narration, and we found out about discovering his vocal gift by singing in local choirs. He is also ruthlessly bullied, a devastating blow to his self-confidence alleviated only by his love of song. Of course when you are bullied because you are singing, and singing more as an answer to bullying - the circle was almost close and never-ending! But, our hero manages to get out of this circle few times... and to come back, again... When Paul meets Julie-Ann (Alexandra Roach) on the internet, his life changes when the two fall deeply in love. Paul has almost everything a man could want, and yet he still seems to yearn...
The tale of how Paul goes from unfulfilled everyman to media sensation is a testament to the human spirit and one of the most engaging true stories of our time. The first part of that story was perfectly paced and engaging, but somewhere in the middle, we were lost for a while, to be back to the normal rhythm at the end. Alexandra Roach and James Corden were perfectly cast for the roles and their chemistry felt as real as possible. Corden brings marvellous coherence to Potts's turbulent trajectory of ambition and frustration, while Roach is just lovely as the partner whose unwavering belief helps see him through. One Chance is about more than one chance - it's about a whole life spent preparing to make a dream come true. It happens!
"I gave you a chance to be a cop, and you ate it"-I mean, "you blew it!". Man, with this guy and then Susan Boyle, it would appear as though "Britain's Got Talent" loves them some fat people. Shoot, I can't blame them, because big people have plenty of room to pack all of that classical range and whatnot, and you need only to look at this film's soundtrack to figure that out, because it's pretty awesome, up until that "original" song by Taylor Swift, whose physique is almost as thin as her entertainment value. Man, I'd find the inconsistency in this primarily classical soundtrack pretty hilarious if Swift's presence wasn't so blasted depressing, but hey, as Il Volo will tell you, some bizarre combination of operatic and pop stylings is kind of Simon Cowell's thing, at least lately. Oh, now Cowell is trying to conquer the "film" producer business, which is cute and all, but no matter how much he tries to make a universal commercial film out of this by having it directed by the guy who did "The Devil Wears Prada", "Marley & Me" and "Hope Springs", and by crowbarring Taylor Swift into the soundtrack, it's not like many people are going to see this, at least outside of Britain. Try as he might to Americanize certain aspects of this film, Cowell can't seem to keep this from being one seriously British affair, which has to be dry, seeing as how its standard for intrigue is so Taylor Swift thin that it thinks the story of some "Britain's Got Talent" contestant is interesting enough to be made into a biopic. No, this film is ultimately pretty entertaining, but Taylor Swift's presence doesn't mark the only inconsistency in this film.
Pacing is a little uneven, for although the film is never dull, per se, it has more than a few slower spells which bland matters up, while jarring you out of a generally smooth, if not pretty entertaining clip, whose momentum is hindered enough by storytelling's unevenly moving down a familiar path. This subject matter holds a potential for a refreshing execution, but in the end, the final product approaches its worthy story formulaically, not so much resorting to trite tropes, but not really doing anything all that unique. Of course, that's not to say that this film doesn't try, as it has a tendency to try a little too hard, as you would expect it to do as a David Frankel film, complete with the occasional overemphasis on tender dramatics which overplays a hearty score and sentimental set pieces, until genuineness, while never absent, goes tainted with a saccharine touch. The consequential shortcomings are light in quantity, maybe even light in severity, but they're just so recurring, steadily, but surely, slowing down momentum, with the aforementioned sentimentality, as irony would have it, reflecting an ambition to sustain momentum that could be embraced as more inspired if Frankel wasn't so eager to milk the full depths of a film which has only so much juice on paper. I joke about how there can't be that much interesting material to the story of some chunky opera fanatic and practitioner, but there is a lot of value to this surprisingly dynamic material, and yet, no matter how many layers there are to this biopic, only so many of them have all that much meat in this engaging, yet barely consequential narrative whose lack of urgency quickly devolves into aimlessness behind the pacing issues, just as the dramatic limitations go stressed by the overt passion to make the film more compelling than it probably can be. Don't get me wrong, inspiration meets ambition enough to make the final product, not simply decent, but borderline rewarding in its heartiness, though potential is about as limited as consequential weight in this relatively lighter biopic, and the subtle missteps in pacing consistency and atmospheric confidence finalize the final product's underwhelmingness. The film both stands to hit higher notes and, well, hits higher notes than I feared it would, falling short in its worthy efforts to compel as much as it can, but still keeping you going enough to all but transcend natural shortcomings in manner that's almost as triumphant as, well, the soundtrack, or at least certain aspects of the soundtrack.
As I've said time and again, the quality of this film's soundtrack takes a pretty decisive nose-dive upon reaching a credits sequence which brings to the prominence one of Taylor Swift's latest sickeningly cheesy, embarrassingly written, mediocrely sung and all around gratingly trite non-efforts, "Sweeter Than Fiction", and it's not like the modern music industry doesn't pop its often ugly little head in from time to time throughout the film, but it should come as no surprise that the primary focus of this soundtrack is the classical masterpieces which Paul Potts grew up on and did justice, and no matter how much we've already heard, say, Puccini's, Leoncavallo's and Verdi's legendary triumphs, in addition to a very modern classical pieces, they continue to be capable of comprising one of the best unoriginal soundtracks of 2013. This film's celebration of classical and operatic pieces not only augments entertainment value through the music's personal overwhelming aesthetic value, but breathes plenty of life in the tonal and thematic layers of this study on a modern opera star, helping in selling you on the film, not unlike the portrayer of said modern opera star. Well, no one really stands out in this somewhat inconsequential "drama", and sure, there are plenty of enjoyable supporting performances, some of which steal the show with their charisma (Man, Mackenzie Crook is awesome in his portrayal of, I don't know, some modern Jack Sparrow), but this is James Corden's show, and he carries it as best he can, capturing Paul Pott's charm, anxiety and ambition with enough, of all things, confidence to feel bonded with his role, becoming Potts, and by extension, the genuinely likable fellow we all fell in love with through "Britain's Got Talent". Corden does his best with what he's being given to do, and that's a job done well enough to help in powering a story that, well, isn't entirely meaty enough to be all that much of a challenge to drive, no matter how much the film gets to be rather tonally and structurally overblown in its interpretation of this subject matter. Of course, no matter how much the value of this story goes spoiled by overambition, - which ironically does only so much outside of emphasize the natural dramatic limitations of this subject matter - I can understand the overt passion, as this story is still a pretty worthy and intriguing one about Paul Pott's rise to stardom, and all of the human trials he faced along the way, with a potential to be made into a compelling character study, something that, quite frankly, truly is achieved. Storytelling's overambition and other questionable aspects shake confidence and focus in the final product, until it falls just short of a rewarding state that it perhaps could have claimed through all of the natural shortcomings, but at the same time, what storytelling does right secures the final product at the brink of rewarding, with Justin Zackham delivering on a well-characterized and thoroughly clever script that graces this narrative with cinematic liveliness that still keeps grounded enough for you to see the story as true, while director David Frankel, despite pacing inconsistencies and some sentimentally overblown atmospherics, keeps up enough color to keep entertainment value generally through, with moments in which sentimental storytelling is realized enough to genuinely touch, giving some weight to a character study of limited meat. Again, the film comes so far that it should have perhaps taken that extra step and stood out, at least as genuinely rewarding on the whole, but where it could have collapsed as the forgettable projects I was fearing it would be, it has enough wit, heart and all around entertainment value to keep you going through and through, in spite of the limitations, both natural and consequential.
Once the final note is broken, the final product falls just short of rewarding under the weight of pacing inconsistencies and sentimentality behind a story concept is limited intrigue, in spite of the bloatings, but through a sensational mostly classical soundtrack, charismatic cast, - headed by the inspired James Corden - clever script and heartfelt direction, David Frankel's "One Chance" emerges as a thoroughly entertaining and heartwarming, if improvable study on modern British operatic vocal virtuoso Paul Potts.
2.75/5 - Decent
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