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Movie Review: 'Bob Marley: One Love'

Kingsley Ben-Adir honors Bob Marley in One Love biopic.

By Sean PatrickPublished 25 days ago 3 min read

Bob Marley One Love (2024)

Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green

Screenplay by Terence Winter, Frank E. Flowers, Zach Raylin, Reinaldo Marcus Green

Starring Kingsley Ben-Adir, Lashana Lynch, James Norton

Release Date February 14th, 2024

Published May 30th, 2024

You can tell that Bob Marley: One Love has four different credited screenwriters. The film has the chaotic feel of too many cooks in the kitchen. That's not to say that this is a bad movie, as music industry biopics go, this is among the better ones. Rather, it's just an observation of the style and tone of the movie which seems to shift gears oddly. You can sense a herky jerky quality of visions for the story changing and merging, and ideas not entirely cohering. The chaos comes however, in a haze of marijuana smoke and good vibes that prove to a saving grace.

Bob Marley: One Love stars Kingsley Ben-Adir as musician, radical, and revolutionary, Bob Marley. A star beloved around the world, Marley once wielded so much power that warring factions of Jamaica's would be leaders, vied for his attention, alternately threatening and offering to protect Marley from harm. All the while, Marley asks for none of this responsibility, accepting the kind offers from both sides while naively hoping that he can bring the two sides together by the sheer force of good vibes. Bob Marley: One Love portrays the star as a man overwhelmed by wielding far more power than he deserves and a desperate ache for peace for himself and the people who have raised him to such a position of power in his home country.

Capturing the contradictions of Bob Marley is actor Kingsley Ben-Adir who has a knack for playing historic figures who died before their time. Just a few years ago, Ben-Adir gave a stirring performance as Malcolm X in the movie One Night in Miami, a stagy but compelling based-on-a-true-story drama about Malcolm trying to recruit Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke, to rally together and use their collective star power in the fight for Civil Rights. In that film, Ben-Adir's casual charisma took a bit of the edge off of Malcolm X, making him feel real and human versus the outsized radical reputation assigned to him by a society seeking to blunt his influence.

Ben-Adir brings a similarly relaxed charisma to Bob Marley, a famously chill guy who just wanted to smoke weed and make reggae music that enriched the lives of his fans. Marley was a radical simply for the fact that he didn't want to take power and called for peace amid wars in the streets. It's believed by many that Bob Marley could have been elected as a leader in Jamaica, but he wanted none of the power, he just didn't want people to be killed in the streets while others sought to take power by force. His unwillingness to take sides in gang conflict nearly got him killed and forced him to flee the country for a time.

The time away from Jamaica proved to be formative in creating his legend. While living abroad, Marley would make some of the most beloved and dynamic music of his career. In a terrific scene, Marley overhears one of his bandmembers listening to the soundtrack for the movie Exodus and he's inspired to write an entire album of the same title that would become one of the best albums in history. Marley eventually became such an international sensation that his return to Jamaica for a peace concert forced the warring factions to come together with Jamaica's warring political factions standing on stage together with Marley.

The film avoids getting into Marley's tragic death, a preventable death from a cancer that started on his toe. Marley's dedication to Rastafarian beliefs led him to not having surgery to remove his toe. The cancer spread and Bob Marley died at the age of 36. It's probably for the best that the movie ended on a triumphant note rather than sticking around for a final tragedy. It's best to remember Bob Marley on stage bringing peace and harmony to the world. It also allows us to spend a little more time with the music of Bob Marley which is the real star of Bob Marley: One Love.

Find my archive of more than 20 years and more than 2000 movie reviews at SeanattheMovies.blogspot.com. Find my modern review archive on my Vocal Profile, linked here. Follow me on Twitter at PodcastSean. Follow the archive blog on Twitter at SeanattheMovies. Listen to me talk about movies on the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast. If you have enjoyed what you have read, consider subscribing to my writing on Vocal. If you'd like to support my writing, you can do so by making a monthly pledge or by leaving a one time tip. Thanks!

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About the Creator

Sean Patrick

Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast I am a voting member of the Critics Choice Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.

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Comments (1)

  • angela hepworth22 days ago

    I really liked this film! I agree, I’m glad it ended on a triumphant note.

Sean PatrickWritten by Sean Patrick

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