In recent years, Hollywood biographical dramas, once considered cheesy yet irresistible, have evolved into a mature and popular art form. This transformation, traced back to films like “Capote” and “Lincoln” and continuing through “Oppenheimer,” involves a shift away from the traditional cradle-to-grave storytelling approach. Instead, filmmakers focus on pivotal moments in a person’s life, allowing for deeper exploration and authenticity.
“Bob Marley: One Love,” a drama centered on the iconic reggae superstar, embraces these new biopic conventions fervently. Set in 1976, the film captures Bob Marley (portrayed by Kingsley Ben-Adir) at the pinnacle of his fame, preparing for a peace concert in Kingston amidst the turmoil of Jamaican politics. Despite his efforts to unite a divided nation, Marley becomes a target for violence when gunmen attack him and his wife, Rita (played by Lashana Lynch), just before the concert.
Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (“King Richard”), “One Love” follows Marley’s life over the next two years as he seeks refuge in London. Despite facing discrimination and legal troubles, Marley continues to create music, reconnect with his band, and reflect on his global impact.
While the period covered in the film offers rich material for exploration, “One Love” falls short in certain aspects. It neglects Marley’s early rise in Jamaica and the evolution of reggae as an art form, opting instead for a focus on his later years. This omission leaves audiences longing for a deeper understanding of Marley’s cultural significance.
Kingsley Ben-Adir delivers a captivating performance as Marley, capturing his charisma and complexity. However, the film’s disjointed narrative and lack of focus prevent it from fully engaging with its subject matter. Despite touching on various aspects of Marley’s life, including his passion for soccer and his health struggles, “One Love” fails to provide a cohesive portrayal of his journey.
Overall, while “One Love” offers glimpses into Marley’s life, it ultimately falls short of capturing the depth and complexity of its subject. Despite standout performances, particularly from Lashana Lynch as Rita, the film struggles to transcend the pitfalls of conventional biopics, ultimately feeling more like a tribute than a nuanced exploration of Marley’s legacy.