Tropic Sprockets / Bob Marley: One Love

By Ian Brockway

The icon Bob Marley vividly shines through in “Bob Marley: One Love” by Reinaldo Marcus Green (King Richard). [Showtimes at Tropiccinema.com.] Intense and accessible the film delivers drama and pathos, highlighting the brightness and bearing of this man and offers equal portions of music and intrigue.

Jamaica is about to be torn apart by strife. Bob Marley (Kingsley Ben-Adir) is consumed about putting on a free concert for peace, believing that his music will ultimately heal political division and violence. Marley‘s wife, Rita (Lashana Lynch) implores Marley to cancel fearing he will come to harm.

As fate would have it, Marley is shot in his kitchen by a gang of young men. A bullet hits him in the arm.

Marley resolves to put on the show. During the main number, Marley has an episode of PTSD and stops the show. He travels to London, seeking tranquility of mind and body. 

There Marley experiences an epiphany, wanting to create a new kind of music, one that serves his devotion to Rastafarianism and Haile Selassie with rhythm and power.

While listening to the “Exodus” soundtrack, Marley receives the concept of an album that is operatic and imagist very like a blockbuster film.

In the office, the musician pushes a minimalist title cover instead of a glossy picture of himself or the band. Despite concerns, the album becomes a phenomenal hit, now imbedded into pop culture.

At the height of the disco era, Marley goes on a European tour and Rita rightly suspects infidelity. Shortly afterwards, Marley is diagnosed with melanoma under his big toe.

This film richly highlights the full scope of this man. He emerges as no saint, but a deeply human man with spiritual and altruistic intention and purpose.

Ben-Adir is perfection in this role, his best to date. The actor’s dancing is so authentic and true to life that watching him in motion becomes spellbinding and eerie.

There is a sadness in Marley as well as joy. The actor illustrates this contrast with a poetic verve and with a great clarity, exhibiting both emotions side-by-side almost as if by split-screen.

This film produced by Ziggy Marley brings the late musician into the light. It is a warm and empathetic portrait that underscores the struggle and emotion of a creative and spiritual person, placing Robert Nesta Marley firmly in an earthly heaven where he rightly belongs.

Write Ian at ianfree11@yahoo.com

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