Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bob Marley One Love

I wish I knew superstar Bob Marley better after seeing the biopic, Bob Marley One Love, but I don’t. For such a music legend, the greatest exponent of reggae and a tireless promoter of peace for Jamaica, director Reinaldo Marcus Green and his host of writers patch together impressive music and a few poignant scenes from 1976 to 78 into a whole that doesn’t give the sense of his greatness before he died of cancer in 1981 at age 36.

As Marley, Kingsley Ben-Adir has the star power of the original Marley with a casual charisma that convinces us he could bring peace to the two warring factions in post-colonial Jamaica. Because Marley eventually leaves home to tour the world and land in London, we are limited in learning about the close connection to his homeland from his birth on.


A reason to see this unimpressive bio is to watch the inception of the album, Exodus, which Time Magazine called the best of the 20th century. As successful as that was, peace was not to be so, an impossible task even the great Marley couldn’t pull off.

Lacking throughout is an intimate look into his psyche, such as we did get in the recent Oppenheimer. Both bios dwell on a few key years (a blessing rather than trying to depict the whole life), but One Love never goes deeply except in the successful scenes with his wife, Rita (Lashana Lynch), which have the kind of soul revealing power lacking in most other scenes which too often scan the surface.

The lesser dramatic revelations such as his passion for soccer, Africa, and the genesis of the simple Exodus album cover are well represented. Less so is insight into reggae while he lived in his homeland. The most we get serves just to verify that he was a charismatic cross between Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury. The real Bob Marley is yet to be seen.

Bob Marley: One Love

Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green (King Richard)

Screenplay: Terence Winter (The Wolf of Wall Street), et al.

Cast: Kingsley Ben-Adir

Run Time: 1h 44m

Rating: PG-13


John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts NPR’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics as well as podcasts Back Talk and Double Take, both listed in the top 10 NPR Movie Podcasts, out of WCBE 90.5 FM, Columbus, Ohio. Contact him at

John DeSando