Director: David Frankel
One Chance, the title of David Frankel’s biopic about singer Paul Potts’ rise to stardom, refers to the British tenor’s first album. Yet it’s also an ironic nod to Potts’ difficult career trajectory. No one “makes it” from one chance—we need more than a single opportunity to achieve our dreams.
The film charts Potts’ rare opportunity during an opera masterclass in Italy to sing for Luciano Pavarotti. The maestro harshly informs the aspiring Potts he lacks the confidence to make it. Played by the endearing James Corden, Potts is naturally crushed by his idol’s words, and gives up his dream—at least professionally. His passion is only slightly dampened, but after joining an amateur opera company, misfortune strikes again several times more: a burst appendix, a tumour that leaves him voiceless for months, and a car accident in which Potts breaks his collarbone.
The film naturally ends with what could be called his second, third, fifth, or millionth chance: the exhilarating, life-changing Britain’s Got Talent performance that made him an overnight success. It may be a standard rags-to-riches story, but not only does it have a lot of heart and humor at its core, it’s a well-structured story. Not of dwelling on every tribulation, the film zeroes in on the stressful Italy masterclass to underscore the traumatic effect of Pavarotti’s dismissal on Potts’ self-conception. There’s some melodrama, but it all kind of works. Frankel successfully taps into the poignancy apparent in Potts’ voice and makes a genuinely inspirational movie about chasing impossible dreams. (Tina Hassannia)
Monday, September 9th, Winter Garden Theatre, 8:00pm
Tuesday, September 10th, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, 5:00pm