Bob Marley: One Love Review

 When we think about Bob Marley, we remember his everlasting impact on music. What started as an outlet to express his feelings towards the violence and corruption in Jamaica became a global protest for peace and unity. His music has been associated with freedom fighters and peaceful protests for years. It’s important to note that Marley felt he had a purpose for his community and the universe to be a messenger for all people to come together and live in harmony. Director Reinaldo Marcus Green captured the very essence of Bob Marley with the help of Kingsley Ben-Adir in Bob Marley: One Love. The more we stayed with Ben-Adir, the more the spirit of Marley shined through him. It felt like an evolution of character, much like Marley’s progression in the music industry. He lived a different life in Jamaica and became more outspoken when he moved to London to pursue his music career. Ben-Adir changed with Marley’s journey and became him once he hit the stage to perform. 

At first, the film plays out like a documentary of Marley’s life. Playing familiar songs and showing the environment he grew up in. Flashes of his mother come to light, his friends, stock footage of his community and the power of his lyrics. One of the most influential moments of Marley’s life was his decision to play a concert amidst the ongoing battle between political figures in Jamaica, which also led to gang violence in choosing a side. This concert was meant to unify everyone and hopefully mend the ongoing crisis. Then tragedy struck the Marley household, and he had to decide on behalf of his family. They were no longer safe in Jamaica because of the power of his words and the fact that he refused to choose a side. He was against violence, and Marcus Green explored that side of his life while balancing his musical talents. There is no message in Marley’s music without reason behind his words. Co-writers Terence Winter, Frank E. Flowers and Zach Baylin highlighted important moments of Marley’s life to showcase who he was. 

Even though Ben-Adir was in the spotlight, it was Lashana Lynch as Rita Marley who stole the film. Rita was the person who grounded Marley, and they had an incredible connection. Towards the beginning, Lynch felt like she was sidelined, but it wasn’t until they moved to London that she had more to work with. Ben-Adir and Lynch worked incredibly well together. You could feel how Marley’s new lifestyle deeply affected Rita and how every strike against their relationship was building up inside of her. Even though Marley had his bandmates, Rita was the one who looked out for him. There are moments where Lynch commanded scenes and gave one of her best performances alongside Ben-Adir. The second half of this film is where they both truly shined, and his journey into stardom was executed well. The formation of the “Exodus” album and the European leg of the tour carried this film. Marcus Green’s choices to include flashbacks while building his career were significant moments in understanding the foundation of who he was. Marley had to navigate the music industry while making Reggae music to inspire peace in his country and across the globe. He pushed himself to write meaningful music, and you could feel the soul in Ben-Adir’s performance. 

Bob Marley: One Love is a music biopic that gives a new perspective on the music icon. Ben-Adir was at his best when on stage performing. He mimicked Marley’s movements but made the vibe flow through him as if it became his own. Even though Ben-Adir doesn't quite look like Marley, director of photography Robert Elswit used different coloured lights and framed him with the crowd to amplify the stage presence and make the performance authentic. Even when trying to form lyrics or work towards a new sound with his bandmates, Ben-Adir understood who Marley was and became a transformative piece for him. He has always been a talented actor, and many first saw him as Malcolm X in One Night in Miami. He has been able to effortlessly mould himself into these icons who have spoken truth to power and attempted to unify the people. Marcus Green focused on the healing of his lyrics and the strength of unity in any community. He focused on faith being vital and forgiveness being the key to living a peaceful life. In a way, the title of One Love is the perfect way to honour Marley and his legacy. Marcus Green gave weight to the influence of words and highlighted that people are placed on this Earth to spread peace and love no matter how long they are here. 


Review by: Amanda Guarragi

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