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What to Expect

David Frankel is known for his heartwarming brand of cinema. They might be manipulative, schmaltzy or filled with more much than they can handle, but they certainly do succeed in reaching some part of the average viewers’ hearts. Films like The Devil Wears Prada, Marley & Me, The Big Year and Hope Springs have had a dynamic set of emotions to deal with, but although some of them could rise up from the sentimentalism, they choose not to. Here’s the most important thing of all though.

Frankel understands the art of tugging into your heartstrings, whilst also making for a fulfilling movie watch. This is when a sweet-looking addition like One Chance comes in. A comedy, biopic and love story all in one, One Chance stands a chance to be a watchable film because of the following reasons:

  • There’s David Frankel, whose understanding of emotion is fascinating, despite his turning over to some of the obvious trappings of a feel-good movie.
  • Most of Frankel’s movies consist of amazing cinematography and perfectly placed visuals that make the film mesmerising to look at.
  • Frankel’s movies have an underlying love story that – despite some schmaltz – work to a large extent. The chemistry between Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston in Marley & Me or – for that matter – Jack Black and Rashida Jones worked to a large extent in driving the movies forward with their watchability.

The question, however, stands: does One Chance score as a film? Does it hit the right notes or is it a few steps shy of the perfect feel-good film?

What’s it About?

Shy and bullied are two of the best words that can describe Paul Potts (James Corden). Ever since he was a kid, he has loved opera. But the thing about opera is that few people understand it, and fewer appreciate it.Struggling through his life, he bumps into ‘the one’ – Julz (Alexandra Roach) – who gives his life a different direction that he’ll never forget.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

They’re perfect for each other… only not written well enough to show it unfortunately!

Part love story, part biopic and part comedic character journey film, One Chance definitely works – but in parts. As a love story, it’s definitely a sweetly concocted recipe, but there’s something about the chemistry of the leads that seems a bit off-kilter. Either of the two leads doesn’t seem to reciprocate well with the other – but i suspect that’s majorly due to the absolutely faulty writing. As a biography, it helps majorly that the movie gets a lighter tone than usual. Sometimes, however, the core emotion of some major events in the film don’t register because of the treatment, howsoever deliberate it may seem.

David Frankel at the helm of it all doesn’t seem to be helping matters much either. It’s a shame, ‘cause the audience has seen the director churn out such heartwarming performances from the unlikeliest of actors (Owen Wilson, Jack Black).

Technically, the movie works well with it’s subdued visual style and rich outdoor ambience. The steady camerawork that wholeheartedly supports the visually appealing direction of the film is easy on the eyes. The edit leaves room for scenes. It’s neither too slow, nor too fast. Montages are prime through the film, and don’t work too badly. A particularly impressively executed gimmick would be the fusion of the real life reactions of the Britain’s Got Talent judges to Paul Potts’ first performance. The scene is supported by a detailed enough production design and a very neat edit that uses continuity to mask the differences in the quality of the respective shots. The music fits in really well with the film, considering it has a very deep-rooted connection with the primary aspects of music alone.

To Perform or Not to Perform

What remains to be seen is the absolutely well-written final scene that pays perfect tribute to the famed audition.

Everybody performs endearingly. I’d like to personally start with Alexandra Roach’s absolutely sincere performance as the love of Paul Potts’ life, Julie-Ann Cooper. She gives the film her all, and has an edge over a lot of the actors when it comes to the sensitivity that she gives to her character. As the support system of her husband she extracts a winning one, and goes a step further relative to James Corden. Corden himself does fairly well, and looks vaguely close enough to singer Paul Potts. The fact that he’s a likeable character sails the film through.

Supporting performers include Colm Meaney, who performs well to a character that sticks to some stereotypes. The truth of the matter, thus, is the unfortunate reality that stereotypes as such (although not exaggerated) still exist in this universe. Julie Walters is wonderful. Valeria Bilello doesn’t just look beautiful, she performs quite confidently too. Trystan Gravelle as the bully does fairly well within his restrictions. Although his character is nothing but repetitive, and it becomes quite taxing to see him do the same things over and over. Others are functional.

Worth it?

Overall, for a Frankel film, One Chance is definitely a disappointment, especially considering I did keep my expectations fairly in check when I went in to watch the movie. Although far from unpleasant – you won’t mind it while it’s running – it doesn’t stick with you after you’ve walked out of the cinemas. Watch it if you’ve got not a lot to do with your free time, although you’d rather wait for a rental to let the movie whizz by.

Star Rating: 2.5 / 5

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