Bob Marley: One Love Review

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Movie: Bob Marley: One Love

Production Company: Plan B Entertainment

Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green

Producers: Ziggy Marley, Rita Marely

Scriptwriters: Terence Winter, Frank E. Flowers, Zach Baylin, Reinaldo Marcus Green

Main Cast: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Lashana Lynch, James Norton

Release Date: 14th February 2024

Running Time: 104 minutes

Certificate: 12A

Introduction: This biographical story detailing the life of the reggae legend is oddly underwhelming and not as remarkable as it should be.

Synopsis: Kingsley Ben -Adir plays Bob Marley as he prepares to hold a concert in a politically torn Jamaica that he hopes will unite the people.

Analysis: Musical biopics are not always guaranteed successes. Some are far better than others (‘Straight Outta Compton’ – the true story behind the American rap group ‘NWA’- is my second favourite film of all time). You never know how much detail and attention is paid to a certain individual’s life when a film is made about them, what is missed and what is included. It really just depends and differs. ‘Bob Marley: One Love’ is awkwardly placed within this. Let’s start with the good stuff. The performances are absolutely stellar, most notably Kingsley Ben- Adir and Lashana Lynch (Rita Marley) who showcase perfectly believable chemistry as they sink into their characters, with thick and authentic Patois in Jamaican accents (there were some moments I found particularly hard to understand – the humour is never lost though as one character does point this out).

Adir also demonstrates the most accurate and appropriate amount of physicality that the role requires, Marley was a very animated performer on stage which he replicates to perfection. He is also able to perform some of the singing well enough (the live performances are lip synced but elsewhere it is actually him singing). There are problems. The issue I had with the film lies with the fact that I felt absolutely no emotional connection or engagement with the story or characters. Since the story’s central theme is togetherness and family amidst conflict and danger, there was a surprising lack of heartfelt punch throughout which just dragged it down where, in fact, there was so much potential given Marley’s iconic status. I also took issue with the troubling and annoying pace of the story, it moved along too fast. Given it’s runtime of 104 minutes, which is one of the shortest biopics I have ever seen, this proved to be unsurprising but still frustrating.

The reason why the film has a short runtime is due to the fact that is misses out a lot of his life – it’s starts in 1976 with his first attempt at a Peace Concert in Jamaica. References to his younger life are brief and in flashback. This is primarily about the last few years of his life. So yes, it does make sense, but I think it suffers as a result. In terms of a film chronicling the life of one of the most legendary, well known and important figures in music, it oddly falls flat. This should have been far more special that it turned out to be.

In cinemas now.

Overall Rating: 6.5/10 – Okay

Target Audience: 12+

Content Warning: drug use, moderate violence, infrequent strong language

Recommendation: Yes