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Bob Marley: One Love




- for marijuana use and smoking throughout, some violence and brief strong language.
Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green
Starring: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Lashana Lynch, Anthony Welsh, James Norton
Running Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: February 14, 2024
4K Ultra HD Release Date: May 28, 2024 (Amazon.com)


READER RATING:   


Plot Summary

The story of how reggae icon Bob Marley overcame adversity, and the journey behind his revolutionary music. (from IMDB)


Film Review

When music fans think of Bob Marley, they probably mostly think of his signature reggae sound, and his message of love and peace. Bob Marley: One Love is devoted much to Bob's life, but most of all to a portion of time when he fought against the violence of Jamaica through his message of love and unity. The movie takes viewers behind closed doors to get a look at the artist's personal life, particularly the few years leading up to his untimely death from cancer in 1981.

Bob Marley: One Love
As one might expect, given Marley's outspoken nature about his beliefs, One Love focuses a great deal on his beliefs in the Rastafari religion. At times, their beliefs seem distinctly Christian, but the story makes sure to point out the major differences, including the religion's focus on an entirely different savior than Jesus. Throughout One Love, Marley and his friends and family frequently refer to their Rastafarian beliefs, and even quote scripture from the Bible. But even if we don't believe in the same things Marley and the Rastafarians believed in, it's difficult to not want to rally behind his desire for peace among men. And, sadly, despite his passionate message, he struggled to escape the violence - especially in his homeland of Jamaica.

As a movie, Bob Marley: One Love skips around a lot, trying to cover a decent amount of material, but not always doing it in a satisfying way. In some aspects, the movie might feel like a feature-length trailer for the artist's life. It doesn't play out in a linear manner, starting with his youth and moving straight through to his death. It opens while he's already an adult in 1976, and frequently flashes back to his youth, when he met his wife Rita or when he was first introduced to Rastafari. Later in the film, as it focuses on him writing and recording his hit album, Exodus, it lingers on the writing of some of his most beloved songs, and only touches on the many subplots and drama between Marley and the people closest to him. One particular dramatic exchange with Rita makes implications for unseen indiscretions, and it seems left unresolved or clarified. And the falling out between Marley and his manager feels relatively sudden, with very little leading up to it. This isn't to say that the movie suffers greatly from these story offshoots; it just feels a little haphazard in how it's told.

Bob Marley: One Love
I'm not familiar at all with Marley's personal life, and have only had minimal knowledge of his music and legacy. With that said, I initially thought Kingsley Ben-Adir's performance as Marley was great. Kingsley is clearly really devoted to this performance, and he made Marley an engaging character to watch. However, when the movie concludes with actual footage of the real Marley in concert and briefly in an interview, Kingsley's performance suddenly feels a bit too reserved or wooden in comparison. For the movie, he's pretty fantastic, but if compared to the real Marley, he probably could have benefited from showing a bit more passion or emotion. I haven't cared for Lashana Lynch in other roles I've seen her in - namely in Captain Marvel and No Time to Die - but she's pretty good here as Rita, showing that Lynch can do more than just be smug and cocky. The pair are surrounded by a solid cast of supporting actors, too, helping to stage a believable, tangible world for a cinematic representation of Marley's life.

But while the structure of the story (the aforementioned jumping around, especially) hurts the film, another major drawback is in the way the characters speak. I totally get that the Rastafari have their own language, in a way, but it becomes extremely hard to understand what on earth many of the characters are saying at any given time. And turning on the subtitles doesn't entirely help either. The language gets spelled out phonetically and it can be just as challenging to interpret the meaning as the scenes are playing out. Sure, it gets easier to understand the more you hear it as the movie progresses, but it's definitely a hindrance to the enjoyment of the film (for me, at least).

The content for Bob Marley: One Love may seem on the lighter side, but the violence, while infrequent, may surprise some viewers. Pretty early on, a man shows up at Marley's house and shoots him and his manager, Don, the latter of whom takes the worst of it. We see Don lying on the floor with quite a bit of blood before being taken to the hospital. In another scene, later on, a character loses their temper and slaps a man across the face, knocking him down. The attacker then continues to kick the man while he's down. He then grabs a metal folding chair to beat the man (who is still lying on the floor) with it, but is stopped before he can. We see the victim spit some blood out as he struggles to get up. Profanity is super light, with just a couple minor words used, and infrequent blasphemy, but there is one completely random and unnecessary use of the "F" word when an angry man confronts a young Bob and his friends. There isn't really much by way of sexual content - aside from a brief shot of a young Bob and Rita kissing and then rolling around (clothed) briefly on a bed while continuing to kiss. Then, an argument between Bob and Rita as adults later in the movie has them accusing each other of indiscretions. Lastly, the film isn't shy about showing Marley's penchant for smoking marijuana, so we frequently see a joint in his hands and his friends around him also smoking.

Bob Marley: One Love
Bob Marley: One Love is an interesting story about pursuing love and peace during a time of civil unrest. While their hearts seemed - mostly - in the right place, the Rastafari still have a pretty twisted (if not entirely cultic) view of religion and the Bible. As a movie about a legendary musician's life and mission, Bob Marley: One Love is a decent effort, if not somewhat formulaic as a biopic. Still, fans of Marley will probably be most interested in a movie about a time in his life, and as that, it doesn't exactly disappoint.

- John DiBiase (reviewed: 5/26/24)

 

 

4K UHD Special Features


Bob Marley: One Love is now available on digital and releases on Blu-Ray, DVD, 4K UHD and 4K UHD steelbook on May 28, 2024. The 4K Steelbook set, which we were sent for review, includes the film and extras on 4K disc and a digital copy that allows you to choose between an iTunes copy or a Fandango At Home (VUDU) copy. The movie looks quite good in 4K, which is most noticeable in distant and wide shots, with sharp color as well. (I wouldn't say the movie screams to be seen in 4K, however.)

Bonus content is detailed below:

  • Becoming Bob Marley—Go inside the making of a legend and see Kingsley Ben-Adir transform himself into the iconic Bob Marley to capture the musician's essence.
  • The Story: Bringing Bob Marley's Story to Life—See how filmmakers structured the film around Bob's music, message, and family.
  • The Cast—Sit down with the actors including Kingsley Ben-Adir and Lashana Lynch as they discuss their process.
  • On Location: Jamaica and England—Discover where Bob Marley lived and created some of his best music, from the beaches of Jamaica to the streets of London.
  • The Band—Explore the real-life musicians involved throughout the making of the film, including some family members of the original Wailers.
  • 8 Extended and Deleted Scenes

 

Parental Guide: Content Summary


. Sex/Nudity: Bob calls out Rita on having an affair during an argument; We see teenage Bob and Rita rolling around clothed on a bed kissing.
. Vulgarity/Language: 1 "F" word, 1 "Chr-st," 1 "Oh L-rd" used in a song, 1 "h*ll," 2 "Oh G-d"
. Alcohol/Drugs: Heavy marijuana use; We see Bob smoking a joint; We see Bob and his band members smoking marijuana during rehearsal; Bob is seen smoking while playing and singing around a campfire; We see a raucous crowd at a concert waving beer bottles in the air, splashing beer as they sing along; Bob smokes a joint with his bandmates on the London streets; There is smoking and drinking during rehearsal; We see Bob smoking while reading the Bible; Bob smokes while recording; Bob smokes during a label meeting; There is more smoking during a show; An interviewer asks Bob about smoking weed a pound a day (which he denies); A band member drinking champagne.
. Blood/Gore: Bob is shot and we see some blood. Don is shot twice in the chest and leg with lots of blood on his clothing and on the floor underneath him. We see Don lying on the floor struggling as others rush to his aid; We see that Rita was shot in the head, slumped over a steering wheel. Soon we see Rita on a gurney with some blood on the bandages wrapped around her head. Bob has blood on his shirt; Bob has a slightly bloody bandage around his arm; Rita inspects Bob's infected big toe and it looks a little gross; A man is hit in the face and falls over. He's then kicked repeatedly while down. We then see him spit blood; The camera focuses on Bob's bloody toe.
. Violence: We see a vision / flashback of a field on fire. We end up seeing this again a few times later; We see real life footage of guns and war imagery from the 70s; There is a drive by shooting; Bob is shot and we see some blood. Don is shot twice in the chest and leg with lots of blood on his clothing and on the floor underneath him. We see Don lying on the floor struggling as others rush to his aid; We see that Rita was shot in the head, slumped over a steering wheel. Soon we see Rita on a gurney with some blood on the bandages wrapped around her head; A man in a concert audience shoots at Bob and misses. In response, Bob unbuttons his shirt to show a scar on his chest. Then rolls up his sleeve to show the bloody bandage where he was shot in the arm; We see unrest in the street with cops and fires; An angry man points a gun at some people; Bob is accidentally knocked down while playing soccer; In a flashback, we see a boy chased by a man on who is on a horse, with fire around them; Rita and Bob argue. He grabs her by the arm and she slaps him in the face; Bob slaps a man and he falls over. Bob then kicks him while he's down, repeatedly; Bob goes after a man to hit him with a metal chair, but Rita stops him.

 

Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.

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