One Chance
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In 2007, Paul Potts, a mild-mannered cell phone salesman from Wales, became the first winner of Britain’s Got Talent, rendering even Simon Cowell speechless with an operatic audition that quickly turned him into an Internet sensation. But, as his biopic, One Chance, suggests, the road to stardom wasn’t exactly an easy one.

One Chance is the rags-to-riches story of a bullied kid who just liked to sing. From a young age, Paul knew that he was born to sing opera—and while his father (Colm Meaney) just wanted him to get a respectable job in the local steel mills, his mother (Julie Walters) encouraged his dream.

As an adult, Paul (played by James Corden) sells cell phones while waiting for his dream to come true. But even after his chat room girlfriend, Julz (Alexandra Roach), gives him a much needed push in the right direction, his is still a long and uncertain journey.

One Chance isn’t an easy sell for audiences in the States. After all, it’s about the winner of a British talent competition—not an American Idol superstar. Paul Potts is a pudgy opera singer—not a flashy pop sensation. And although his audition video has been viewed millions of times on YouTube, most of us have probably never heard of him. But don’t let that keep you from taking a chance on this charming biopic.

Told with honesty and self-deprecating wit, Paul’s story is the quintessential underdog story, as seen through the eyes of a lovably awkward protagonist. Beset by bullies, bad luck, and a debilitating lack of self-confidence, this unlikely hero navigates his way through a series of ups and downs—both exhilarating successes and crushing failures. Unlike the typical cinematic underdog, though, he doesn’t simply soldier on, shoving the critics aside as he marches toward his destiny. He struggles with each set-back, sometimes even wallowing in self-pity. And while that may not make him sound like an especially inspiring figure, it makes him real.

At the same time, there’s more to Paul’s story than just his opera-singing dreams. One Chance is also a heart-warming love story. Julz is Paul’s biggest fan, supporting him, encouraging him, and persuading him when needed. When no one else believes in him—least of all himself—she’s there, pushing him to keep going, even when the challenges seem too great. In a way, then, it’s Julz who makes the film, turning just another story of rejection, misfortune, and defeat into the crowd-pleasing tale of a reluctant everyman turned overnight sensation.

It isn’t exactly full of surprises—the outcome, after all, is no secret. But the inspiring story and lovable characters make One Chance a sweet and charming film about an unlucky hero and the woman who always believed in him.

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