Film Review: Bob Marley – One Love (2024)

Bob Marley: One Love is never allowed to cut free enough to be the interesting story it could be

“I startin’ to wonder if you need to take it serious Bob”

Bob Marley: One Love may have been directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, who co-wrote the screenplay with Terence Winter, Frank E Flowers, and Zach Baylin, but the crucial point lies in the number of Marley family members who have producer credits. Any biopic so closely linked to those who were so close to its subject, particularly one who is deceased, has its struggle to be anything but legacy-protecting and such is the case here.

Using his 1976 shooting as its jumping-off point, as Marley prepared for a peace concert amid violent political turmoil in Jamaica, it paints with the broadest of strokes as he decamps to the UK to record the album which would become Exodus and then barely have time to celebrate its success before being diagnosed with cancer. It’s a period bursting with creative potential and yet it is all so flatly rendered here, all rough edges sanded away.

Kingsley Ben-Adir struggles to break through this sanitised characterisation, his relationship with wife Rita (a too-good Lashana Lynch) meant to be the lynchpin but there feels little emotional honesty here given how little attention is paid to the repeated infidelities and children produced therefrom. But even if one argues that this isn’t central to his creativity, there’s so little ingenuity or interest coming from this depiction of Marley’s creative process.

Flashbacks to his childhood add little, scenes with bland record execs give little insight into record company politics, there’s just not enough delight, danger or detail to move the soul or engage the brain. What works is the music but why would you sit through two hours of imitation when the real thing is so easy to access (something acknowledged by the film itself as it closes with real concert footage…).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *