Saturday, October 11, 2014

One Chance (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

One Chance

The most interesting thing about "One Chance" the underdog story about an unknown Welsh opera singer, Paul Potts, is its subversion and nod to Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange." In the film, Paul Potts (James Corden, How to Lose Friends & Alienate People) relates in a sly voice-over reminiscent of Alex, that he was badly beaten. As Paul races down a lane of identical block houses, he intones with a gallows deadpan of how some school bullies, Matthew's "droogs" pummeled, spit and kicked him bloody. To further enhance the comparison, as he is being chased, Mozart No. 25 is heard, all during Potts' matter of fact and slightly sarcastic nostalgia. Potts as an opposite and heroic version of Malcolm McDowell, has revenged himself upon his attackers, with opera as his weapon of peace.

There are other good moments as well showing Paul smitten almost to the point of paralysis by his girlfriend, Julz as he says goodbye to her on a high speed train. This sequence with Julz (Alexandra Roach) kissing the window as Paul sketches a heart, almost outdoes Romeo and Juliet along with "A Little Romance."

Both James Corden and Alexandra Roach become the most stirring magnets in this film by director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) and  producer Simon Cowell of American Idol.

This is a small heartfelt story of a pudgy youngster who wants to sing,  in the tone of  a "Billy Elliot."

While we have seen so many runs of it before, in life and in film (the humble person with the "big voice" from a small town who finds solace in singing) ala Susan Boyle and many others, this film still delivers a good dose of freshness and verve singularly because of James Corden.

While most of the drama is predictable: a macho blue collar pop (Colm Meaney) coupled with  a supportive yet reticent mum (Julie Walters), Corden gives his role a throttle of restless energy with a hint of shy irreverence in the style of a Ricky Gervais. There is also something refreshingly unkempt  in his role as if he were in a soprano version of "The Little Rascals," his faced flushed, his dress baggy,  his hair a mop.

Si, belissimo he is.

At one point it reminds one of "Flashdance" when Paul is forced to work at a steel yard.

While it hits all of the recognizable keys that we know so well, ad nauseam , including a self conscious song by Taylor Swift, the film keeps its spunk. The romance between Corden as a naive but verbally frank singer and his adorable and upfront love, bring back something of the big screen Hollywood Romance recalling the Technicolor "Singin' in the Rain" as well as a daring wisp of Charlie Chaplin.

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