Bob Marley: One Love Movie Review, Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green

The review of the biopic on the legendary artist of Exodus and Catch A Fire, directed by Oscar nominee Reinaldo Marcus Green. Released in Italian cinemas starting from Thursday 22 February, distribution by Eagle Pictures

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds. Have no fear for atomic energy, 'cause none of them can stop the time.” It is sufficient to return for a couple of minutes or little more - the official duration corresponds to 03:53 - to Bob Marley's famous socio-political ballad, Redemption Song, to get an immediate and more than concrete idea of everything that is missing from Bob Marley: One Love. Biopic directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green of King Richard - a recent film of little fame, which has become a controversial title, exclusively because of that slap of shame from a Will Smith apparently incapable of taking off the shoes of the unbearable characters played on the big screen -, Bob Marley – One Love is written by Zach Baylin, Frank E. Flowers and Terence Winter, the latter author of most of the scripts for The Sopranos and thus for The Wolf of Wolf Street.

When the family is involved

Taking a quick look at the names involved, both in production and in much more technical roles - to give just one example, the assistant editor - there is evidence of a highly visible family operation that not only makes the director available but the entire project, the musical rights of what was created during his short life by Bob Marley, never properly told and shown here, but it even decides what kind of biopic this Bob Marley – One Love – will certainly be discussed and for this reason inevitably part of any credible product on the man and artist, Marley -, cleaning up his image to the point of proposing a holy card at the limits of credibility, therefore boring and very unglamorous.

It is no coincidence that the majority of musical biopics of recent years of cinema have failed to emerge, including titles such as Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocket Man, Judy, and Behind the Candelabra. Either for total freedom concerning musical rights and the treatment of the artists' lives, or for a massive presence of one or more relatives of the latter within the projects, and yet, none of them has ever managed to really leave an imprint on the historical memory /cinematic, both the faces and the bodies, as well as the art resulting from them, as they are all too interested in a cleansing operation that never seems to have received consensus over these years, both from the public and from the critics.

In fact, everything that fans, enthusiasts, simple connoisseurs, and more generally the paying public would have wanted - and should have - found in this film, should have been, Bob Marley the poet, the rebel, the one who better and more than anyone else he was able to embody the concept of originality, his image in some ways mythical and rarefied, partly due to that incessant cloud of smoke released from the joints and partly due to that optimism never silenced, even by the violence generated by social disorder and abandonment, both by the white father - one of the few surprises of the film - and by Marley himself - the exile in England and the radical separation from the family unit, often betrayed, and from love -, yet there is none of this.

Bob Marley – One Love: evaluation and conclusion

The Marley family somehow chooses and moves the pawns, creating a brand new Bob Marley, who has nothing to do with the globally admired and listened to artist - the music within the biopic is fortunately omnipresent and still sounds great -, unable to (ac)fully grasp the symbolisms, the ferocious emotional charge, the commitment, as well as the protagonism in the international and more specifically Jamaican reflective socio/economic scenario, the pain, the emotional complexity and the characteristic way of addressing and communicating, of the his character.

Despite the immediate choice and this yes, interesting and necessary, by Reinaldo Marcus Green, Zach Baylin, Frank E. Flowers, and Terence Winter, not to give Bob Marley – One Love that conventional and much-abused form, seen and revised by the majority of Hollywood biopics, musical and otherwise, which begins with the rise and ends with the fall of the man and the artist depicted, much of the film's potential is soon wasted, despite the excellent performances of Kingsley Ben-Adir and Lashana Lynch as Bob Marley's wife Rita.

This is a film that is far too respectful, polished, and incapable of making even the most radical, bizarre, unique, and certainly suspended lives interesting. Losing the genius without finding it again, announced, yet never really shown, the Bob Marley of Reinaldo Marcus Green and the Marley family, forgets his own mannerism and thus his own verve and wild physicality, becoming something else, a pale transfiguration that has nothing to do with: “Singin' don't worry about a thing, worry about a thing, oh every little thing gonna be alright, don't worry.” And that's a real shame.

Bob Marley – One Love will be released in cinemas starting on Thursday 22 February 2024, distributed by Eagle Pictures.