May 26, 2024

BOB MARLEY: ONE LOVE (4K): A Respectful Tribute, But Little More

2024 / 107 min
Review by Stinky the Destroyer😼

Bob Marley: One Love is chock full of the reggae legend’s music, from iconic classics to lesser-known cuts. His songs are present throughout the entire film in recreated concert footage, scenes in the studio, band rehearsals and as an effective secondary score to the narrative. If nothing else, this is a great soundtrack.

Elsewhere, Kingley Ben-Adir doesn’t just portray Bob Marley…he becomes Bob Marley through his appearance, mannerisms, voice and dialect. One need only compare his performance to interview & concert footage of the man himself. As modern music bios go - and we’ve gotten a lot of ‘em lately - few actors have so convincingly immersed themselves in the role.

Those two aspects make One Love worth seeing at least once (though Marley fans will probably revisit it more often). 

However, One Love plays more as a respectful tribute than a revealing biography. The film largely takes place from 1976, when he fled to England after being shot (for suspected political reasons), to his triumphant return to Jamaica in 1978. In between is sort of a Cliff’s Notes account of the most successful era of Marley’s career, when his seminal album, Exodus, made him an international star. Interspersed through the narrative are numerous flashbacks of his upbringing, meeting wife Rita (Lashana Lynch) and his first time in a recording studio.

Bob regrets choosing the drive-thru.
Ultimately though, Marley’s life and career is explored with the depth of a detailed Wikipedia article. Aside from confronting a greedy tour manager and a brief marital spat with Rita, there’s little in the way of dramatic conflict. A musical montage depicts his rise to superstardom, complete with the usual shots of packed arenas and his latest record flying off the shelves. And despite Ben-Adir’s stunning portrayal, Marley himself comes off as more of a symbol than flesh & blood human being, his dialogue mostly consisting of philosophizing. The secondary characters, including Rita, are even less developed.

One Love concludes with Marley’s inevitable passing (from cancer) in 1981, but considering his ongoing musical and cultural impact, it is never as affecting as it should be. The film is worth seeing for the music and Ben-Adir’s embodying performance, while the rest is a perfunctory summary of his glory years.



FEATURETTES - Becoming Bob Marley (Kingsley Ben-Adir’s preparation for playing Marley); The Story: Bringing Bob Marley’s Story to Life; The Cast (primary cast members are featured); On Location: Jamaica and England (shooting locations); The Band.


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