Combustible Celluloid Review - Bob Marley: One Love (2024), Terence Winter, Frank E. Flowers, Zach Baylin, Reinaldo Marcus Green, Reinaldo Marcus Green, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Lashana Lynch, James Norton, Daniel Melville Jr., Sevana, Hector Lewis, Tosin Cole, Aston Barrett Jr., Michael Gandolfini
Combustible Celluloid
 
With: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Lashana Lynch, James Norton, Daniel Melville Jr., Sevana, Hector Lewis, Tosin Cole, Aston Barrett Jr., Michael Gandolfini
Written by: Terence Winter, Frank E. Flowers, Zach Baylin, Reinaldo Marcus Green
Directed by: Reinaldo Marcus Green
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for marijuana use and smoking throughout, some violence and brief strong language
Running Time: 104
Date: 02/14/2024
IMDB

Bob Marley: One Love (2024)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Jamming

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Reinaldo Marcus Green's Bob Marley: One Love is undeniably thin, and, like most biopics, fails to flesh out its supporting characters, but it also has an appealing low-key vibe that, along with the fine lead performance, makes it enjoyable.

It's 1976 and Bob Marley (Kingsley Ben-Adir), already a well-known music artist, prepares for a concert for peace in Kingston, Jamaica, when intruders break into his home and attempt to shoot him. After the concert, he flees the country, winding up in London.

There, he begins work on a new album, one he hopes will capture a fresher, more ambitious sound. That work, Exodus, becomes a huge success and leads to touring. In 1978, Marley decides that it's time to return to Jamaica and stage another peace concert, this time with a gesture that will be sure to get people thinking.

Most biopics, and indeed, almost all popular music biopics, struggle for importance while stumbling over the same old cliches. By contrast, Bob Marley: One Love never seems to have that much at stake. There's no succumbing to the pitfalls of fame or drugs or groupies. Marley is comfortable in his skin and never tries to be something he's not. When someone calls him a "superstar," he responds, "I ain't a superstar… I'm a ra-sta!"

It's fun to see bits of history come alive — The Clash (who would become hugely inspired by reggae music) playing in a club, references to Marcus Garvey and "Two Sevens Clash," etc. — and even more fun to watch Marley and the Wailers making music. Scenes of conjuring up the songs "Exodus" and "Jamming," are electric, and the moment in which he composes "Redemption Song," almost as if out of the blue, is quite moving. His wife, Rita (Lashana Lynch), asks "when you write that?" And he responds, "All my life."

As Marley, Ben-Adir has an easy command of the screen, and he gets the moves and the voice just right; this Marley is a performer who does his own thing — "music and message is the same," he asserts — with little concern for fame or glory. Bob Marley: One Love manages to capture, if not in detail, then at least the essence, of the man and the legend.

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