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Source: Courtesy / Paramount Pictures


The following movie review does not contain direct spoilers for the film Bob Marley: One Love, however general information in regards to the plot, characters, key climax points and historical context directly related to events in the film will be heavily discussed.

Please read at your own discretion, or after seeing the film in theaters.


Forever cemented at the age of 36 due an untimely premature death on May 11, 1981, reggae pioneer Robert Nesta Marley — we’ve come to know and love him simply by Bob — is a man who has been gone for way longer than he was alive. Still, his musical sound and code of conduct in life influenced a nation with sonics and ideologies that people today still swear by. Shoutout to the Rastafari movement, forever and always.

It’s for those reasons and countless others that Bob Marley is, was and for years now has been more than deserving of an official biopic that tells his story in all of its glory while still paying respect to his legacy. It only took four decades, but the time has finally arrived with today’s theatrical premiere of Bob Marley: One Love, which, yes, shares the intended irony due to the film’s title of perfectly falling on Valentine’s Day.

It was just last week that the world at large was celebrating his would-be 79th birthday, so to see his legacy still rising with the debut of his life story told in cinematic form is a blessing in itself.

We just wish there was a bit more to love about it. Allow for us to elaborate.



RELATED: Happy Birthday Week Bob Marley – Allan Tannenbaum Talks Capturing A Legend In His Prime


One Love immediately takes you into Marley’s adult life upon the film’s opening, and does a sort of Memento-style backwards working plot in order to fill in the biographical details of his younger years. While thoughtful in execution, particularly due to the fact that much of the biopic focuses on Marley at age 33 during his career-defining 1978 One Love Peace Concert, it achieves this feat while sacrificing core details that fans would’ve loved to see depicted. Adolescent years and his formidable young adulthood are told in the form of cinematic Cliffs Notes that leave you intrigued to see the deeper story.

Then there’s the unavoidable drama that came with his personal life (read: infamous issues with infidelity), which One Love glosses over at best while focusing on the dynamic love story with his “true love” in the eyes of many, Rita Marley (née Anderson). Ironically enough, the aforementioned blind eye can most likely be attributed to the fact that Ziggy Marley, one of the couple’s four biological children, serves as executive producer on the project. His creative control over the film, from casting to choosing what ends up in the sequencing overall, plays a lot in where the film falls flat at being as legendary as the man himself.

For any public figure prominent enough to have a biopic, it takes a genuine unbiased approach in order to get it all right. There should be a comfortable middle ground that doesn’t lean too far into embellishment due to zero involvement from the family — we’re still cringing at Lifetime’s 2014 biopic, Aaliyah: The Princess Of R&B, a whole decade later! — yet also doesn’t paint the subject as a saint due to a personal interest in how the narrative is told, as many argued with the depiction of Biggie in Notorious (2009) and even greater with 2Pac in All Eyez On Me (2017). In short, you won’t see One Love get into Marley’s infamous affairs with Pat Williams or Janet Hunt, who both birthed babies by him merely days apart from each other while he was still with Rita. That’s not even mentioning the other Janet he had a child with a year later. Not Cindy Breakspeare, not Anita Belnavis and, no, not Lucy Pounder either. In contrast though, Rita comes out looking like the biggest star of the show outside of Bob himself, which respectfully could also be attributed to an award-worthy performance by Lashana Lynch.


Bob Marley: One Love

Source: Chiabella James / Bob Marley: One Love


Casting adds another element to where One Love unfortunately made a misstep. For as great of an actor that Kingsley Ben-Adir is, especially in the 2020 film One Night in Miami… as Malcolm X, there is no reason why he should be playing Bob Marley. Height difference alone — Marley was 5′ 7″; Ben-Adir is 6′ 2″ — the 37-year-old rising British actor doesn’t even have the natural dreadlocks to make it even remotely believable. And yes, the faux “new growth” is quite noticeable on screen, albeit not as bad as a Tyler Perry film. In all actuality, the actor who plays Marley in his younger years, Quan-Dajai Henriques, is a way more suitable fit and should’ve been trusted to carry the film playing Bob Marley for the entire duration. Being that it’s also his acting debut, a rising star moment for Henriques was sadly overlooked for the sake of giving the real Marley an unneeded “movie star” makeover.



Bob Marley: One Love

Source: Chiabella James / Bob Marley: One Love


All grievances aside, Bob Marley: One Love does make for an entertaining viewing experience especially if you come from a West Indian upbringing. The patois dialogue that emanates from scene to scene is a sonic joy in itself, and the cinematography by Oscar winner Robert Elswit (There Will Be Blood) gives the whole thing a theatrical beauty that’s well-deserving of Marley’s legacy. Also, most importantly of all, the music weaves it all together and is used with 100% legal rights — basically, no cringey covers in the least bit.

Ultimately though, we just would’ve loved to see more.


Head out this Valentine’s Day to see Bob Marley: One Love, officially spreading irie vibes in theaters today. Peep the trailer below:




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