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  • Gareth Crook

Bob Marley: One Love (2024) - 5/10

Everyone loves Bob Marley right? I do, but other than some vague knowledge of him not being as perfect as the legend suggests, I’m not at all clear on his life. There’s none of that in One Love though, which leads me to think it’s not the best film to fill in the blanks. It’s a slick surface puff piece. That doesn’t mean it’s bad though. The focus is one Bobs search for peace. Jamaica is volatile in the 70s, political struggles overflow into violence. Bob (Kingsley Ben-Adir) plans to unite the country and the world with music. It helps that the music is incredible and it’s never far away. It leans heavily on the back catalogue. It sort of works in that the lyrics of songs like ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ carry messages that work in context, but it does feel a bit crowbarred in places. Bob may trust in Jah, have faith in peace, but his countrymen don’t all agree. In guns they trust and there’s a lot of shooting. That’s the story in a nutshell, Bobs spirituality and stubborn belief verses the real world violence. Ben-Adir isn’t bad. He looks the part, gets the mannerisms, sells the voice (not the singing one, he mimes over the real Bob), but he feels authentic, even in the live concert sections, but the structure feels televisual, back when TV wasn’t the art form it is today. It’s clunky, reminding me of the dream sequence nonsense of Gladiator, schmaltz laden with stings. At best it lacks grit, at worst it feels like a cast of caricatures, especially when Bob goes to London and watches The Clash. How that got signed off is beyond me. It feels like a wasted opportunity. Jumping wildly around without any backbone. It doesn’t get under the skin. James Norton, usually capable of real depth feels ridiculous as Bobs English manager. Despite all these many problems, it is still quite watchable. I don’t feel like I learned a thing about Marley and his life, but it did make me want to put a Marley record on. Maybe this was just to flog the name. That’s how it feels. Great tunes though and you’ll learn more by listening to Bobs lyrics than watching this film.



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