Monday, December 9, 2013

One Chance

"The Devil Wears Prada" director David Frankel returns with the true story of Paul Potts, a London cellphone salesman who won "Britain's Got Talent."

Bullied as a kid, put down by his dad (Colm Meaney), possessed of a shy and self-effacing sweetness, Paul (James Corden) is only really happy when listening to - and especially when singing - opera. To him, opera is more real than real life, a world in which people express exactly everything they feel. He saves up for years to attend opera school in Venice, but chokes in his big audition before Pavarotti himself. When his bike loses a collision with an automobile, he's hospitalized and a tumor is found on his thyroid. He's told he may never sing again, but slowly resumes singing in the shower days before a pop-up ad for the Simon Cowell show hits his laptop. 

"One Chance" is as formulaic as the title suggests, but I like that it's more about Paul and opera itself than about the show, which is almost an afterthought. I liked seeing a fat guy as a romantic (and, ultimately, not completely asexual) lead for a change; there's a nice scene of Corden, in all his expansive girth, standing on his terrace in Venice and taking in the morning air. Alexandra Roach lends strong support as Julz, the girlfriend he meets online who supports him through all his setbacks (before their first encounter at a train station, he claims to be a ringer for Brad Pitt, she for Cameron Diaz). And it's always nice to see Julie Walters, though here (as Paul's mum) she has little to do but stick up for him against Meaney. You shouldn't spend money to see "One Chance," but if you come across it on the tube, you might just find yourself rooting for Paul more heartily than you'd expect.

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