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Bob Marley: One Love Can't Match Its Subjects Energy {Review}

Bob Marley: One Love falls into too many of the same mistakes that many bipics make these days, and fails to make an impact.

Article Summary

  • Kingsley Ben-Adir stars as Bob Marley in a disjointed biopic that missteps.
  • Lashana Lynch shines as Rita Marley, suggesting a missed narrative focus.
  • 'One Love' suffers from clichéd music cues and lacks depth in Marley's beliefs.
  • Despite its iconic subject and soundtrack, the film's execution disappoints.

Bob Marley: One Love is plagued by many problems. If it had come out ten years ago, it might have been different, but we have had so many biopics released during that period that it is more glaring when a mediocre one comes out now. It's not the fault of the leads, as Kingsley Ben-Adir is a solid choice to play Marley—Ditto Lashana Lynch as his wife, Rita. But the film is disjointed and a mess. The music cues are too on the nose, and it all adds up to really make it feel boring and way too long, even though the run time comes in under two hours. Stay in and listen to the man's music instead.

Bob Marley: One Love Can't Match Its Subjects Energy {Review}
Kinglsey Ben-Adir as "Bob Marley" in Bob Marley: One Love from Paramount Pictures.

Bob Marley's Story, Or At Least A Part Of It

The film is a mess. It focuses on the period of Bob Marley's life from the mid-seventies until a little before his death in 1981 at the age of 36 from cancer. There are glimpses of his childhood and teenage years, but the film is not really all that interested in that time period. It would have been nice to get this area of his life fleshed out a bit more because many of his beliefs and outlook on life were shaped then. Barely touched upon, they become the focal point of his music and adult relationships; the Rastafari beliefs are not explained enough for the viewer to understand. They can sing and talk about it all they want, but it doesn't make it easy to follow.

Kingsley Ben-Adir could not be more like Marley during the performance scenes. His mannerisms, especially his hand movements, are on point to where it feels a little scary. But he has trouble holding his own with the rest of the cast when he is not performing the music. He cannot match Lynch's energy; maybe that was on purpose, but she is on another level. This film should have been from her perspective; it begs to be on multiple occasions. Instead, One Love falls into the trap of becoming more of a biopic, not interested in saying anything other than the subject's importance. This is becoming more and more of a problem in this space, more so with documentaries that heavily involve the subject or their families. Nobody wants to see their problems put on screen, sure. But glossing over things also makes everything feel less authentic and becomes boring.

Also, one of the most annoying traits of any musician biopic is everywhere in this film. What is that you ask? Well, there are multiple scenes when a character says a Bob Marley lyric, leading into the film queueing up said song. It is incredibly annoying and eye-roll-inducing. Throw in some quite obvious CGI crowd scenes where you can tell they cut corners for budget reasons, a poor sound mix, and some of the worst lighting in a film so far in 2024, and the whole thing feels cheap, looks cheap, and ends up being disappointing from a director who made such a splash with King RichardReinaldo Marcus Green knows how to make a captivating biopic. What happened here?

Bob Marley: One Love Can't Match Its Subjects Energy {Review}
Lashana Lynch as "Rita Marley" and Kingsley Ben-Adir as "Bob Marley" in Bob Marley: One Love from Paramount Pictures.

All that being said, the music is undeniable. Everyone in the theater will be bobbing their heads to the music, and the message of Bob Marley is an important one. One just wishes the movie delivering it wasn't such a bore.

Bob Marley: One Love

Bob Marley: One Love Can't Match Its Subjects Energy {Review}
Review by Jeremy Konrad

Bob Marley: One Love is a biopic that falls into the trapping of many others at this point, worshipping the subject instead of just presenting the story.

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Jeremy KonradAbout Jeremy Konrad

Jeremy Konrad has written about collectibles and film for almost ten years. He has a deep and vast knowledge of both. He resides in Ohio with his family.
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