Reel Reviews | Bob Marley: One Love

by Charles Kirkland, Jr.

A small part of the life of reggae icon Bob Marley is examined showing the origin of his revolutionary music in Bob Marley: One Love.

Beginning in 1976, Bob Marley started to record an album that would change the world, “Exodus”.  Meanwhile, violence in Jamaica threatens to derail all life on the island.  Marley has the great idea to organize a concert that will unify both parties and restore normalcy to the country.  Unfortunately, after an attempt upon his life, Marley is forced to leave the land but touring the world will only make his music and his legend greater.

Bob Marley: One Love is written by Terence Winter, Frank E. Flowers, and Zach Baylin.  It stars Kingsley Ben-Adir as Bob Marley, Lashana Lynch as Rita Marley, and James Norton.  The film is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green.  Baylin and Green worked together on King Richard in 2021.

Bob Marley is a musical icon and the music that he created with his band The Wailers has left an indelible mark upon the world.  It is slightly disappointing that the movie only focuses on essentially three years of Marley’s life and music when the discography is so vast.

Being released on Valentine’s Day, the movie’s plot does not focus on the extensive life of Marley. Instead, the writers, most likely under the direction of Marley’s son Ziggy who serves as a producer, only focus on the good parts of Marley’s life. Bob Marley is played as an easy-going, loving, and caring person.  It is understandable of course.  After all, what son would want to speak poorly of his father? In the end, the other producers probably had to go along with the version that the family wanted because they had to get all of the wonderful music of Marley into the film.

Wonderful could be the classification for the acting performance of Kingsley Ben-Adir in this film.  Ben-Adir captures many of the mannerisms of the musical genius.  His Jamaican accent is impeccable.  Kingsley confessed to having two speech coaches for the film.  As wonderful as Ben-Adir is, Lashanna Lynch is his match. There is one scene where Lynch overtakes Ben-Adir in performance but both of them are very good, even with this restricted script.

Rated PG-13 for marijuana use and smoking through some violence and brief strong language, Bob Marley: One Love is a very sanitized and carefully curated biopic that allows the audience to see a small part of who Marley was.  Music is played.  Stories are told. Love triumphs.

Grade:  C+