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Byron Shire
February 28, 2021

Cinema review – One Chance

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Nessun Dorma – we’re all familiar with Puccini’s gorgeous aria.

Most of us know that the words mean ‘none shall sleep’, but only the opera buff is aware of the context. In One Chance, it is explained to Julie-Ann (Alexandra Roach) by Paul (James Corden) as she disrobes on their wedding night.

‘And my kiss will dissolve the silence that makes you mine!’

It’s quite a moment – one of more than I anticipated in a movie that is impossible to dislike. One Chance tells the true story of Paul Potts, a winner of Britain’s Got Talent.

From when he was a child in a church choir, the only thing that chubby, daggy Paul has ever wanted to do is sing. He is blessed with a beautiful tenor voice, but in the grim Welsh town where he’s grown up it’s either the steelworks or a job selling car-phones.

He has been bullied in his youth and borne paternal derision throughout his awkward youth – his father’s proudest boast is that he broke a famous opponent’s bones in a game of rugby – but Paul will not let go of his dream.

It all sounds too cheesy to swallow, but somehow it works. Central to its success is the rock-solid romance between Paul and Julie-Ann. After corresponding online, he calling himself Brad Pitt and she Cameron Diaz, they finally meet on a railway station and the bond that is immediately formed between them sustains a thin, rather shop-soiled plot.

Setbacks come thick and fast for Paul, the most demoralising of them being when the great man, Pavarotti himself, pours cold water on his ambition, but because we are aware of Paul’s fate beforehand there is never any threat to the feelgood wave that we comfortably wait to be drenched by.

In the meantime, the juxtaposition of stark reality and fanciful hope is a constant theme – the slag heaps of Wales and the splendour of Venice the most striking – along with the age-old moral of being true to yourself and never giving up.


~ John Campbell


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