Saturday, October 25, 2014

One Chance

I honestly don't know what's wrong with you people. I try to understand you, but I just don't. Hollywood makes a feel-good flick about a down-on-his-luck guy who achieves fame and glory through being an amazing opera singer, and you're just not happy about it. You don't go see it. If you do go see it, you're picking nits about accents and singing postures and God knows what else.

It's like I can't even trust you to rate a film, collectively.

If not for the insistence of @JulesLaLaLand, I would not have gone to see this movie, given its tepid mid-'60s ratings on Tomatoes. But, man, that chick can nag. I swear, I'm not sure how the President hasn't personally gone down to Mexico to free Sergeant Tahmooressi, given her advocacy of that particular issue. (Hi, Jules! *waves*)

But, as I point out, I don't understand a lot of things.

This is a feel-good movie centered around the not-so-feel-good life of Paul Potts, who went from abused and bullied kid who loved opera, to an abused and bullied adult who loved opera. And, while the movie is called "One Chance", it in fact shows a man who has had (and taken) many chances. Which is why it works, really.

For all the beatings he took, for his shyness, for a guy who was a 30-year-old virgin, here is someone who took whatever chances he could get away with, even if it meant entering a town talent show (to get the money to train in Italy), or approaching a non-local girl on the Internet, or just being a good cell phone salesman.

It's not nothing. We see Paul as a man who struggles to do well, even if the world seems to want to crush him. He finds a way. And sometimes he fails, which can be even harder than having the crap beaten out of you.

And this movie definitely smooths out the rough edges. Check out Potts' Britain's Got Talent performance if you've never seen it—although maybe not until after you've seen the movie; let's discuss that in a bit—and you can see Potts' face is one wracked with pain. It's not just shyness, either, it's the face of someone who's suffered a lot of actual, physical pain.

The movie does a good job of reminding us of the Potts' struggles with the thugs in his town, without letting it dominate the proceedings.

There's a pretty typical Hollywoodization here—which is not bad, really. The real thing would've been unpleasant, I think: We're not, as moviegoers, as resilient as Mr. Potts. James Corden is stocky (and even fat; he may have put on some weight for this) but he's basically a handsome fellow, and he plays Potts with sensitivity and warmth.

Alexandra Roach, as Julz, is a dead ringer for Lynn Redgrave in Georgy Girl, and makes a great counterpart to James in what has to be one of my favorite cinematic love stories in recent memory.

Julie Walters (when is she not great?) plays Mother Potts, and Colm Meaney plays grumpy old steel-mill-working opera-hating dad. We get a Hollywoodization of Dad and Paul's relationship, too, and I suspect it may not have resolved as neatly as shown, but it was the resolution we wanted to see.

The guy who played Pavarotti was excellent. I thought it was Pavarotti. No, I did not remember Pavarotti had died. But Simon Cowell was in it, too. I mean, not that Cowell's dead, as far as I know, but it looked like they used archival footage of "Britain's Got Talent" (I don't know why they wouldn't, and I re-viewed that clip, and the movie, if it recreated it, did an amazing job, down to Amanda Holden's tear. Amanda Holden is not credited, either.)

I guess I'm reduced to arguing that they had archival footage of Pavarotti dissing this poor unknown. Heh. Look, I'm just saying character actor Stanley Townsend did a great job. Or they reanimated Luicano. Either way.

Anyway, it's a breezy watch, fun and funny, moving in parts, but I think I'd recommend watching it first, then going back and watching the "Britain's Got Talent" clip after. I think maybe the issue some people are having is they remember the incident, and have all kinds of opinions about it, and so are less interested in this being a movie unto itself.

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