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I have been extremely excited to see Bob Marley: One Love since the day they announced it, I am a HUGE Bob Marley fan, I’ve read pretty much every book written about him, watched numerous shows and documentaries about him, watched so many concerts and interviews, I have over 35 of his albums hanging on my wall. If you were to ask anyone that knows me, even just a little, who makes you think of Bob Marley, I pop into their head.  I went into this with a ton of excitement and question; how will they portray this man, for me the music is just the tip of the iceberg, yes the music is what put him on the map, what made people recognize him and listen to what he was saying, but he was so much more than a musician.  You can go anywhere in the world and you will see his image, hear his music, see people wearing his shirt, there are reggae bands on every continent. He was a messenger, a warrior, an activist, a humanitarian, a prophet, a workaholic, an incredibly complex man, that used his music to get his message out. So I thought, how can they get all that is Bob Marley into a movie. And maybe my expectations were too high.

Very early on in the film is the assassination attempt on Bob Marley's life. The gunman is standing in the hall outside the kitchen and is looking at Bob, hesitating, you can see and feel what he is going through, should I shoot, how can I do this, and once Bob sees him they lock into each other, Bob just looking at him wondering why, how could my people do this to me, a very pivotal moment not only in the movie but in Marley’s life. As the gunman starts shooting, grazing Bob and hitting Don Taylor multiple times, Bob almost stands there defiantly, knowing that he will not die. Later he briefly mentions his vison about the shooting. Bob had visions his whole life, a moment where there is no explanation or expanding on the subject.  Something we get throughout the film. It is just tossed out there for the audience to wonder, is that it, is it that simple.

To me this movie was about the emotions in me, what I felt while watching, how I felt after the movie, the following day and now two days later while writing this. I’ll start by saying I liked this movie, I really enjoyed it and will be seeing it again. I will also say that it felt rushed throughout and fell short on telling the audience the true story and struggle and greatness of Bob Marley. While watching it put a smile on my face, put me right there with Bob, made me tear up, just brought out a lot of different emotions, which I think shows where this movie really hit, it fell short in many other ways. When they would start to touch on an issue, or emotion, or thought they quickly moved on. There could have been so much more to the relationship, or lack thereof, with his father. The feeling he had after the assassination attempt and retreating to London, while we could see a struggle, we did not get to see or feel what he was truly going through.  The flashbacks, while a nice way to show what he was feeling at that moment, at times popped out of nowhere with little explanation and then would just stop.  And the flashbacks were some the best parts of the movie, I loved seeing him leaving with his mother Cedella (Sidilla) to head to Kingston, but no real explanation. While waiting for the bus in Nile Mile they were with, I assume Cedella’s father and Bob’s grandfather, Omeriah Malcolm. He was such an important part of Bob’s early years, he was his father figure, it would have been nice to see their interactions.

One of the absolutely best parts of the movie was Bob’s flashback to 1965 when he, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh meet Coxsone Dodd, founder of Studio One, to try and get a recording deal.  They don’t impress Coxsone at first and as he is walking out of the studio they start to play “Simmer Down,” he walks back in with a huge smile and says let’s make a record, while Lee “Scratch” Perry is climbing up the walls in excitement. Quan-Dajai Henriques does an amazing job of playing the teen Bob and the Marley family should be planning a follow up movie that covers his childhood growing up in Nine Mile and his teen years in Kingston when Bob, Peter and Bunny were trying to make it. These were such important years in what help make Marley the icon he became and is today.  There were a few flashbacks when Bob was getting introduced to Rastafarianism, but they really missed diving into this in more depth, since it was such an important part of who Bob became and his beliefs, we really needed more.

I especially liked showing how they created “Natural Mystic” while in the studio.  It was as if a natural mystic was flowing through the studio. The movie was in a large part about the creating of Exodus, so it was an insight to the creation of some of the songs on the album. Bob playing “Turn You Lights Down Low” to Rita, and Rita telling him he needs to do more songs like that, don’t get away from those types of songs. And then Family Man playing Ernst Gold’s Exodus soundtrack that they had just purchased at a record shop in London; Bob comes running downstairs and gets the idea for his “Exodus” song as the band starts to jam and create the song.  I would have loved to see the creation of other songs on the album since this movie was about the creation of Exodus. It gave a nice look at the creative genius Bob was but also the talent of his band. The Wailers might have been the best band in the 70’s.

The acting overall was fantastic throughout the movie and cast.  Kingsley Ben-Adir did a great job depicting Bob, he did a nice job with Bob’s Jamaican Patois, his mannerisms, his dancing, the looks, it took me a few minutes to settle into him being Bob, but then it just flowed.  I have heard and read about people saying he did not look like Bob and didn’t portray him well, how can you find someone that looks like Bob and can act like Bob, unless it is Bob.  You can tell Kingsley spent many many hours studying Bob, learning everything he could about Bob. I read he studied over 50 rare archival Marley interviews to help learn how to talk, and act like him.  Lashana Lynch was so amazing in her role as Rita, possibly the best thing about this movie. She played this role perfectly and if I were a producer or director I am on the phone with her agent. Lashana and Kingsley had so much chemistry, I wish we would have had more of their interactions and life together.  James Norton as Chris Blackwell and Anthony Welsh as Don Taylor were also great in their roles.  I would say, while I knew who everyone was, for the most part, in their roles, I kept thinking that those that are the casual music Bob Marley fan wouldn’t know who they are.  I thought doing a little introduction to the characters would have gone a long way, but maybe it did not matter to most. In the scene when Bob heads up to Strawberry Hill after the assassination attempt, we see those close to Bob sitting around a table.  His long time friend and lawyer, Diane Jobson is there with others, but they do not explain who is there and why. Again, it may not matter to most, but it seemed rushed and unfinished.  And while I mentioned Quan-Dajai as the young Bob doing a great job, Nia Ashi playing the teen Rita also had a great performance. Again, if I were the Marley’s I would be preparing the next movie staring Quan-Dajai and Nia; Bob Marley: Nile Mile to Wailing Wailers.

There was so much good in this film, but the rushed nature and not taking us into the details of Bob Marley and what made him tick, what made him the way he was, what made him the man he became, what made him an icon? Just left this movie falling a little flat. So much left for the audience to question and not fully understand the man. For me, the whole storyline was not new to me, seemed from everything I know to be right on the money and telling the truth, but the one thing that was new to me and a huge surprise happened toward the end of the film.  Bob comes back home to Jamaica and heads to his home on Hope Road.  He is greeted by Rita, his kids, friends and heads into the house and goes to the kitchen. All alone he looks around and touches the bullet holes in the wall (you can see these holes if you visit the Bob Marley Museum, it is pretty emotional seeing it) and he turns to see the gunman standing in the hall looking at him. The gunman apologizes to Bob and Bob forgives him. Such a powerful moment and an amazing way to circle all the way back for an almost closure for Bob (I don’t think he ever completely got over the assassination attempt). Very impactful and a flow of emotion in that simple scene.

While I do feel this missed on some fronts, was rushed and could have really given us a better understanding of who Bob was and what made him, it was still a very good movie, one worth a watch in the theater, so great hearing Bob's songs throughout. The acting alone was excellent and how authentic it was, whether it was the streets of Kingston, the home on Hope Road, the home in London, the club Bob went to watch The Clash, the beach, the concerts, it really helped pull the viewer into the time period, into the life of Bob. I would really love to see another movie about Bobs early life and them another one from 78 until is passing in 81. It is the kind of movie that can be much larger and much more. It was also a great movie giving an insight into all that is Marley.


One Love – Todd Judd


Todd Judd

Photojournalist - Pennsylvania

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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