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Review - Bob Marley: One Love

Bob Marley: One Love is director Reinaldo Marcus Green's latest film after the Will Smith starring King Richard. Curiously, much like how that film failed to tell the most interesting part of the story (that would be Venus and Serena Williams' perspective), this new biopic fails to capture what makes Bob Marley a legend, his spirit.

The film attempts to capture a lot of Marley's life but rarely seeks to ask why he does the things he does. We get plenty of biopic tropes and Wikipedia facts but rarely do we get under the skin of what made Marley tick. Part of this is the film's lack of interest in explaining his religious beliefs in Rastafari, which would have helped bring us into the headspace of this legendary musician. There are highlights along the way. Few can deny the power of his songs and hearing them blasted in the theater is a joy but that can be done anywhere so what does One Love bring to the table?

Kingsley Ben-Adir plays Marley and does a lot of good work to embody the man down to the thick Jamaican accent and his moving singing. It never feels like an impression which is both a good and bad thing as Ben-Adir struggles to get lost in the part. Lashana Lynch is the film's acting standout, playing his sidelined wife Rita. She brings emotional heft to just about every scene she is in.

It is hard not to think of Bohemian Rhapsody while watching One Love. The overall structure climaxing with a big concert feels lifted from that film. The film also indulges in some silly "eureka" moments where Marley appears to come up with a classic song in mere moments with only the slightest of inspiration. There is also an avoidance of anything controversial in his life. It gives only the briefest of moments to Marley's infidelities and drug use. And while it is not bad to want to make Marley into an icon, it robs the film of any depth.

The film's biggest highlights come around the recording of Marley's most popular album Exodus. These scenes have a real energy to them and are a blast. Maybe I am a sucker for studio recording scenes but I wished more of his musical career was covered here. Marley deserved a better portrait of his life here. Unfocused, full of tropes, and a lack of depth plague the film.



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