MOVIES: Bob Marley: One Love

There are few greater albums than Exodus.

Bob Marley and the Wailer’s magnum opus is a classic of more than just reggae, and there are few more inspirational music figures than Marley himself. Bob Marley: One Love is the latest film to attempt to do justice to a music icon, but the result, like the Whitney Huston and Queen biopics before them; falls short as it goes for a family-approved, sanitized take on the legend that ultimately has nothing to say, remembering Marley as an apolitical icon as opposed to a revolutionary. Biopics are the preferred genre of Reinaldo Marcus Green – who gave us King Richard, previously Oscar nominated – but just as with that film it’s a film that coasts by on the strength of the performances of its leading stars, the extremely talented Kingsley Ben-Adir and Lashana Lynch, who deserve so much better than the hackneyed, undercooked, cliché-ridden material that uses Walk Hard: A Dewey Cox Story as an instructional manual as opposed to something to avoid.

We open in 1976 when political strife in Jamacia almost leads to Marley’s death for wanting to headline a unity concert, and after a harrowing shooting attempt he finds himself in London getting involved in the punk scene and reinventing himself as European tour artist – slowly working on the recording of Exodus. This is a film that centres much of its main story around the recording of that album but lets the pace down by flashbacks to his early life in Jamacia, never giving the main storyline the chance to breathe before we’re interrupted with an ongoing arc with his absent father, and how he met Rita, his wife.

It’s a testament to the skills of Kingsley Ben-Adir that he’s able to make Marley such a magnetic figure. The performance is a masterstroke – charismatic and he boasts enough screen presence to totally buy into the concert scenes, that are brilliantly lit by a talented crew. The lighting of these concert scenes; and then again of Jamacia and punk-era London, presented here as a dystopia, are among the film’s strongest assets: technically it looks good. Vibrant, colourful and alive – Bob Marley: One Love feels destined to propel Ben-Adir to even greater fame than before. It’s just a shame that the script is so pedestrian.

There’s no tension here; yes it’s a true story but there’s no suspense even in the initial shooting when Marley is almost killed. It feels safe. There’s no depth – the characters are thinly drawn and the Wailers are rarely given the space that they need to develop. The complexities of Marley’s life just aren’t featured and are glossed over, and the authenticity that the producers go for as a result, doesn’t feel earned or honest. It’s a watered-down, safe affair with little to shout for – a smoother pacing structure could have really helped this one but the flashbacks and the safe storyline that’s unafraid to pull punches make Bob Marley: One Love a misfire despite its good intentions. We need to be looking more at Priscilla, Elvis and Rocketman as examples and less at well; everything else.

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button