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Bob Marley: One Love

average rating is 3 out of 5


Brian Penn


Posted on:

Mar 12, 2024

Film Reviews
Bob Marley: One Love
Directed by:
Reinaldo Marcus Green
Written by:
Terence Winter, Frank E.Flowers, Zach Baylin
Kingsley Ben-Adir, Lashana Lynch, James Norton

The idealists among us might think music can change the world. Realistically it can only alter the way we see ourselves. Bob Marley delivered a message that still reverberates over 40 years after his death. This new film by Reinaldo Marcus Green explores a painfully short life that should be measured by its quality more than the longevity cruelly denied.


The opening frames focus on a young boy growing up without a father. The white British army soldier who gave him life had long since departed. The narrative occasionally returns to that young boy yearning for his father to protect him from danger. The plot lands in the mid-70s when Marley (Kingsley Ben-Adir) has ascended to super stardom as reggae's poster boy. Chris Blackwell (James Norton) has signed Marley to his Island Records label but is increasingly vexed by Marley's political activism.


Jamaica is a cauldron of political instability and riven by crime. Marley plans a concert to bring the people together. However, his enemies are quietly gathering and make an attempt on his life. He moves to the relative safety of London and freedom of football in the park. Marley enters the most fruitful phase of his recording career. He releases the 'Exodus' album and plays a series of legendary concerts culminating at the Rainbow in North London. However, hangers on are exploiting Marley's popularity. His long suffering wife Rita (Lashana Lynch) bemoans his ignorance and chronic infidelity.


The story of Bob Marley is sewn into the fabric of popular culture and easily relatable. So the task of putting it on the big screen is more straight forward. Kingsley Ben-Adir is a charismatic leading man while James Norton is well cast as Chris Blackwell. Lashana Lynch also lends solid support as Rita Marley. Whilst it slips into 'routine biopic' territory the songs still represent a unique era.


'Get up stand up' is more relevant than ever and feels like it was written yesterday. The hopeful 'Three little birds' and thoughtful 'Redemption song' still resonate and pack an emotional punch. The joyful rocksteady beat of ‘Simmer down’ is also featured and was Marley’s first hit single in Jamaica. London in the 1970s felt authentic and a sharp reminder of tumultuous change. It all feels a bit too safe but is still an enjoyable canter through the discography of a great artist.

About the Film Critic
Brian Penn
Brian Penn
Theatrical Release
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