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“Bob Marley: One Love” Somewhat Inspires

Written by: Adam Vaughn | February 13th, 2024

Bob Marley: One Love (Reinaldo Marcus Green, 2024) 3 out of 5 stars 

Unlike the majority of biopic films, which mostly follow a chronological sequence, Bob Marley: One Love launches the viewer right into the thick of the most influential part of its subject’s life, where Marley’s music and fame were strongest. Green makes a bold but effective decision here, starting us on the journey midway and inevitably revisiting the past in the form of a young Bob Marley (played by both Nolan Collignon and Quan-Dajai Henriques) and a young Rita Marley (Nia Ashi) as they first meet and fall in love. But besides the non-linear storyline that director Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men) unspools, Bob Marley: One Love is otherwise bland in its execution.

While I absolutely loved the tenacity and spunk he put into playing Bob Marley, actor Kingsley Ben-Adir (Barbie) seems like a polished and overly caricatured version of the Rastafarian artist. While there were several compelling moments that Ben-Adir delivered, overall he did not seem to resemble the scruffy and free-spirited Marley in a way that helped drive the film. I would more so give credit to Lashana Lynch (The Woman King) for her portrayal of Marley’s wife,  Rita. While still not a picture-perfect match for the role, Lynch delivers a phenomenal performance that often overshadows the main role. Besides my issues with the casting, I also felt that the writing was often uninspired.

l-r: Lashana Lynch and Kingsley Ben-Adir in BOB MARLEY: ONE LOVE from Paramount Pictures.

The real question to ask, however, is, “How does the music sound?” Green’s film reinvigorates the music of Bob Marley in astounding ways, and for the most part his sequences of Marley and the Wailers performing are the scenes that steal the show. Mixed with the backdrop of a 1970s Jamaica in the midst of a civil war, along with the social issues addressed, Bob Marley: One Love paints a solid motif of Rastafarianism achieving great feats in the arena of peace and unity.

As a person who did not grow up in Bob Marley’s heyday, I appreciated music I recognized, and immediately fell in love with the music (mostly from his famous album Exodus) that was brand new to me. Thus, Bob Marley: One Love will surely be loved and adored by huge Bob Marley/reggae fans, as well as appreciated by any other moviegoer looking to gain basic knowledge into how the man and his band changed music history.

l-r: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Anna-Sharé Blake, Lashana Lynch, and Naomi Cowan in BOB MARLEY: ONE LOVE from Paramount Pictures.

Adam Vaughn is a graduate of the Film & Moving Image program at Stevenson University, with a focus in Cinematography and Production. He also has a minor in Theater and Media Performance. Adam works as a freelance photographer and videographer, focusing his craft on creating compelling photographic and cinematic imagery. Adam is excited to join the Film Festival Today team and explore the world of cinema and visual arts.

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