Toronto Film Festival 2013
Film review: One Chance - James Corden provides belly laughs as Britain's Got Talent winner Paul Potts
Tuesday 10 September 2013
Paul Potts embodies all that is good about TV talent shows. Not blessed with the looks of Brad Pitt, the opera singer from Port Talbot was rejected out of hand by music professionals before the public voted him the winner of Britain's Got Talent in 2007. He is certainly not the type of guy to have a movie made about him. It’s not like he’s Pol Pot, as the joke – played twice in an otherwise hilarious introduction to the singer - goes.
After a brief, schmaltzy preface set in 1985 when the nine-year-old Potts ruptures his eardrum and is bullied at school for being fat and liking opera, the film starts in earnest with a voiceover in which Potts tells us that he always wanted to sing and that his life has been an endless cycle of music, drama and comedy. It’s now 2004 and Potts (James Corden) is still living at home. His dad hates him singing opera, he is still scared of the school bully and he has been texting a girl for a year, but has never plucked up the courage to actually meet her. An acerbic Mackenzie Crook, playing his best friend and boss at Carphone Warehouse, eventually arranges for Paul to meet the girl who describes herself as a Cameron Diaz doppelganger. When she turns out to be Julie Ann-Cooper (Alexandra Roach), a Cardiff check-out assistant, Potts is rather relieved. A great first date, featuring a torch, an accidental encounter with Paul’s mum and a pub quiz, follows.
The director David Frankel has a patchy track record - The Devil Wears Prada sits alongside The Big Year on his resume - but he must be commended for the superb way he weaves Britain’s Got Talent into his film. He tells the story with broad strokes and doesn’t mind inventing fictions when it helps to move the story along. The film works best when the action plays to Corden’s comedic strengths. He brings out some real belly laughs and his love story with Roach is heart-warming enough to provide plenty of goodwill from the audience when the action veers off course – in Italy.
When Potts goes to Venice, some serious stereotypes are trotted out - most notably a big fat mama and brothers willing to break your legs. A montage in which Potts sings with the beautiful Alessandra (Valeria Bilelo) runs like a Venetian tourist board commercial. When it ends badly and when Paul returns back to Port Talbot, there is another tonal shift. Asked to show his acting chops and play depressed, Corden doesn’t quite hit the mark. The film seems to want to ape the dramatic arc of an opera but it never quite succeeds in this ambition. Still, you don’t need to be a Paul Potts fan to be consumed and amused by this charming tale.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'Cheeky' Nando's under fire for apparently coming onto a customer on Twitter
- 2 Saudi Arabia mosque bombing: Two volunteer security guards hailed as heroes for stopping Isis suicide bomber reaching worshippers
- 3 Playboy model April Summers speaks out about being a victim of revenge porn
- 4 There is something wrong but very right about this Bible illustration
- 5 iPhone 'effective power' text: how to be safe from iOS bug that lets people crash your phone
Jay Z's Tidal could be about to lose Beyonce's music in ultimate humiliation
Royal Academy of Arts' Tim Marlow: Bronze statue of lovers embracing at St Pancras station is a lesson in 'how not to do' public art
Britain's Hardest Grafter: Petition set up as Twitter reacts to BBC 'poverty porn' series pitting low-paid workers against each other
Britain's Got Talent 2015: Jamie Raven divides Twitter as fans expose mind-boggling magic trick
Big Brother contestant Aaron Frew removed from house for 'inappropriate behaviour' after flashing fellow contestants
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'