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Bob Marley: One Love review - Natural Mystic on the Screen

Bob Marley: One Love review - Natural Mystic on the Screen

Despite approaching it with some trepidation, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie Bob Marley: One Love in the end. Kingsley Ben-Adir, who looks nothing like Marley, seemed awkward in the role at first and his dreadlock wig was not at all convincing. But the English actor seemed to grow into the part as the film progressed, even his dreads became more natural, and he wound up capturing well the spirit, struggle and message of the man. 

The filmmakers chose to frame the story between Marley getting shot 1976 and 1978’s One Love Peace Concert, when he brought political enemies Michael Manley and Edward Seaga together onstage. And there are some wonderful flashbacks, including the young Wailing Wailers winning over producer Coxsone Dodd with their in-studio performance of “Simmer Down.”

img 0769In total, the film features 17 Marley songs, with Ben-Adir lip-syncing the words and singing a few himself. The focus on Marley creating his Exodus recording (named the 20th century's most important album by Time magazine) and then taking it around the world was a clever choice and gave the film a powerful and, for me, an emotional crescendo. 

img 0772I thought Lashana Lynch, as Rita, and the entire supporting cast were excellent and entirely believable. They, along with a local film crew of 250 Jamaicans helped to give the film, shot in Jamaica and England, its authenticity. 

As critic Brian D. Johnson has written, the movie “looks, sounds and smells like Jamaica.” And the decision not to subtitle the patois dialogue was a brave and admirable choice that added to the real feel of the film. 

Ultimately, One Love does justice to the Marley legend and will bring new listeners to his incredible and still timely catalogue of songs.

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