British film One Chance tells the remarkable true story of Paul Potts, a meek and mild man with a big voice who is repeatedly beaten down and then beats the odds to win Britain’s Got Talent.
Born in the industrial town of Port Talbot in Wales, Paul (played by James Corden) is only ever happy when singing opera, but the more he sings, the more the kids bully him, and the more they bully him, the more he sings. Low in confidence and high in ideals, he survives the teasing and torment by tuning into the world of opera, which, he says, “is more real than real life”.
As a young adult still living at home with his parents, his love for music is supported by his mother, who is played with all the vitality and quirkiness we have come to rely on from veteran Julie Walters. But his father, Roland Potts (Colm Meaney), who works in the coalmines, brings home a more downtrodden, working-class attitude and expects Paul to do the same. “Work hard and get a few quid in your pocket to make your way,” he dictates. “A good lad is one who is not afraid of hard work. Life doesn’t owe you any favours.”
Later, while working at the Carphone Warehouse, Paul meets Jules (Alexandra Roach), who delights him with her humour and belief in his talent. He goes on to attend opera school in Venice and performs for his idol, Pavarotti, but after falling short of his ideals, he returns to Wales, where he faces further setbacks and disappointments.
Ultimately, though, Paul’s life story is an inspirational one, sending a message to never give up on your dreams; that it’s worth stepping out of your comfort zone to take another chance.
In an interview before his winning performance on Britain’s Got Talent in 2007, he said: “My dream is to spend my life doing what I think I was born to do.” And with more than 15 million people watching on that fateful night, an unassuming young man surprised the world with his spine-tingling rendition of Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma”.
One Chance – directed by David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) and written by Justin Zackham – is one of those feel-good movies with a feast of messages to take to heart, not least of which is the importance of having someone believe in you.
Paul Potts gave the performance of his life and this is his story – “the opera of his life”. It is well worth watching.
© Patricia Herreen 2013