“The story is uplifting, but the way that it’s presented almost ruins it.”
Upon the recommendation of my mom, last night I watched the film One Chance. One Chance is a true story about Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts. Paul Potts is a normal british boy, but one who loves the opera. The film essentially follows him throughout his life finding his voice, and eventually going on to win Britain’s Got Talent. I know that is kind of a vague synopsis, but it is usually hard to put a life story into words.
Life is absolutely terrible, and there isn’t much argument against that. We as humans spend our lives getting the shit kicked out of us every single day just for the opportunity to be successful. You can be a pessimist like me and look at life as a complete shit show, or you can take a more optimistic point of view and claim that it is the struggle that makes us who we are. If it wasn’t for that daily beating that we get, we wouldn’t know when to appreciate what we have. To this point I have to agree, and I also think that this would have been a great addition to One Chance. In One Chance, we are essentially told that Paul Potts has a hard time with life, but we never really see it. The entire opening of the film is just a guy going about his life, much like every other person on the planet. Sure he gets bullied as a child, but that is really the only problem we are shown during the first half of the film. Even when he did “fail”, he did so in a way that allowed him to essentially fall upward. Nothing was really in Paul’s way, and that took away the gratification of finally seeing him achieve his life goal. The film then does go on to show more trouble in Paul’s life, but the issue there is these problems barely relate to singing. In my opinion you have Paul Potts, a man who worked at a cell phone store who won Britain’s Got Talent. Obviously someone heard about this and said to themselves: “Wow, that would make a great movie”. When they finally met with Paul they found out that his life wasn’t as great a story as they once thought, so they had to add a lot of shit. For example: Late in the film Paul get’s hit by a car. Does this impact his singing? No. It impacts his mood, which in turn you could argue did impact his singing, but when you have to reach that far it is safe to leave it out all together. Now I’m not against having movies that follow a person’s life, but there are so many movies coming out every single week that you better make sure the story you are telling is one that deserves to be told. I don’t dislike the story of Paul Potts, as a matter of fact I think that it is a wonderful story of perseverance, but I don’t think it deserved a full ninety minute movie.
On top of the film not really having much in the way of obstacles for our main character, it was also all over the place plot-wise. One thing that movies often use are time/location cards. This is seen as lazy at times, but it keeps the audience in the loop allowing them to have a grasp on where/when the story is taking place. One Chance opens with a time/location card, but then abandons it when it needed it most. Obviously to condense someone’s life down into ninety minutes is no small task, so you will have to jump around in time a little bit, but the problem I had with One Chance is that it never told you where it was in the story. I can compare watching One Chance to being thrown off of a building: All you can do is watch as these scenes fly past you in rapid succession until finally you hit the ground. One Chance seemed to work on the basis that you already know the story of Paul Potts, but I for one didn’t. Even after watching the movie there are still questions I have. For one, did Paul graduate from his opera school or did he drop out? Obviously the point of that plot line was to show him being criticized by his idol, but then it just kind of stops. I’m also interested in exactly how much time we witnessed in the movie. So much happened to Paul Potts that it is hard to pinpoint exactly how much time was in between every event. He meets his girlfriend, he goes to Italy, he works in a metal factory (?), he wins a talent show, he gets married, he goes back to his old job, he stands up to his father; all of this could have taken ten years to occur, but the film sets it up as if all of it has happened in the same month. There is no care taken in terms of time; One Chance just throws everything at the wall and you are left wondering what is happening, when it is happening, and what impact it has on the rest of the story. It also doesn’t help that many of the scenes in One Chance could have been in any order and it still would have made the same amount of sense. Every scene in One Chance features the same characters having similar conversations to ones that they have had before, but they seem to forget that the rest of the movie has happened. These scenes exist in a bubble; they have no connection to the rest of the film. And finally, just before we hit the ground, One Chance takes it upon itself to quickly wrap up every plot point that it has laid out before us. Does it do a good job of this? I wouldn’t say so. It’s a bit insulting to have a movie set up a character whose problems are very complex, only to have every single problem wrapped up in a “they all lived happily ever after” kind of way. It trivializes everything that this character went through, and it removes any sense of immersion I had in the story. Real life doesn’t have happy endings, and it definitely doesn’t have problems that resolve themselves in a matter of minutes. Some other small issue is had with One Chance was the fact that I didn’t buy the singing in the film, and the terrible decision to use generic pop music instead of opera as the film’s soundtrack. First of all, the singing is not something that I could buy at any point in the film. I’m not saying that James Corden can’t sing, but his speaking voice compared to his “singing voice” in the film are two completely different things. I was also disappointed that One Chance opted to use generic pop music instead of Opera music as the soundtrack. An Opera soundtrack not only would have fit the film a hell of a lot better, I’m sure it would have been substantially cheaper as well.
Overall One Chance was rather disappointing. The story is uplifting, but the way that it’s presented almost ruins it. The narrative feels rushed and can get pretty confusing, and the film seems to lose focus more than a few times. At least the acting was alright I guess.
I give One Chance a C