Tag Archives: Terence Winter

Rastaman, Live Up

Bob Marley: One Love

by Hope Madden

It’s kind of stunning that Bob Marley: One Love represents the first time someone’s told the star’s legendary tale onscreen. Yes, you can find concerts to watch (may we recommend 2020’s Marley?), as well as Kevin Macdonald’s outstanding 2012 documentary, Marley.

But this life seems custom designed for cinematic treatment.

Reinaldo Marcus Green (King Richard, Joe Bell–dude loves him a biopic) finally gives the Rastafarian some big screen drama with a fairly straightforward, greatest-hits look at what set Marley apart.

Kingsley Ben-Adir (Malxolm X in One Night in Miami) plays Marley. The 2012 doc provides a little clearer picture of Bob’s enigmatic, challenging character. Ben-Adir delivers a charming, eternally laid-back presence. Marley’s flawed, but just enough to make him human. Never enough to make him unlikeable.

As the film–written by Terence Winter, Frank E. Flowers, and Zach Baylin–begins, Jamaica is in the middle of a contentious election year that threatens to erupt in a civil war. Marley hopes an upcoming concert can bring the people together.

His wife Rita (Lashana Lynch, The Woman King) disagrees. She thinks it will bring danger to Bob and his family. Rita is right.

The balance of the film follows Marley’s story, sometimes flashing to dreamlike snatches from his childhood, or allowing glimpses of the teen years that brought Bob, Rita, and Rastafarianism together. The main throughline is the trouble caused by success outside of Jamaica.

Lynch flexes muscles we’ve not seen before, though the unapologetic ferocity that has marked her work up to now is as present as ever. Ben-Adir’s Marley is all tenderness, and the performances balance each other nicely.

The music is great, obviously, and a large ensemble (Nia Ashi, James Norton, Anthony Welsh, Quan-Dajai Henriques, Michael Gandolfini) delivers.

Marley’s widow, his oldest son Ziggy, and several of his other children produce. Possibly this explains One Love’s soft touch. And the result is a perfectly lovely tribute to a figure who is not known as well as he should be. But it also does not really let us get to know him, which is too bad.