Review: Bob Marley:One Love Movie

Leaving the whole reggae world divided, today will be the release of the I-ley anticipated Bob Marley: One Love Movie. With the Marley Marketing Machine running in full gear, It was almost impossible to miss a glimpse of the Movie Trailer or one of the many Worldwide premieres.

As I am sitting and passing time in the Airport lounge for my trip to Jamaica for Reggae Month, I decided to write my view on the movie from the heart. Although I am well aware, that whatever I write here, it might spark more discussion.

Last Monday I was invited by Paramount Pictures in The Netherlands to watch the Amsterdam Movie Premiere at the Pathé Arena Cinema. First of all, thanks for the invitation!

So what is the buzz about? Like I said in the intro, the reggae world is, again, divided. For some the movie a is a definite top and for some, apparently without seeing it, the movie is already a flop. The main reason for that allegedly, when scrolling through social media, is the fact that Kingsley Ben-Adir, who plays Bob Marley in the movie, is a British actor and “doesn’t speak Jamaican”. For what it’s worth, the young Bob, played by Quan-Dajai Henriques, born in Kingston does speak perfectly Patois, and also the even younger Bob, St. James JA born Nolan Collignons’ Patois is, of course flawless, as is their acting skills.

Well after seeing the movie, his accent (or the lack of it), personally didn’t bother me much. As soon as the movie starts you are drawn into the movie. And yes, of course, being reggae media, we read the books, we read the biographies, we watched the 2012, Kevin Macdonald Documentary. We know how the story goes, we see the little flaws… but when looking at the perspective of the average viewer who might be attracted to the movie from seeing the trailer, this is a great movie. (Hence I am not a movie critic).
For me it wasn’t Ben-Adir’s accent, but more the looks. But hey, NO ONE can ever play Bob Marley with his distinct look and movements. Even when Bob had been played by a Jamaican actor, it woulda never been Bob. Plus, for Ben-Adir, having the massive balls to step in the skin of such a legend can only be applauded for. Well done!

Not only the way how the film makers perfectly caught that 70’s vibe, but also how the producers managed to put a 2 year timeframe (from December 3, 1976 when Bob Marley was shot in Kingston, until the One Love Concert on April 22, 1978) in the movie, must have been a hell of a job. Sometimes it was a bit unclear to me when the film switched between the “present” and the “past.” And some characters could have been introduced a bit better to learn who was who.

Personally what I liked the most, is seeing all those familiar musicians in the movie, Aston Barret Jr, Naomi Cowan, Sevana, Hector Lewis, Abijah Livingstone, Ricky Chaplin (in a great roll as Mortimer Planno), Everaldo Creary and Sheldon Shepherd, J Written, Alexx A Game, Matubaruka, etc etc and the list goes on. That alone got a big smile on my face. I have to say though that Mutabaruka could have done a bit more than just opening a gate 😉

As you already have noticed when you read this far, I am not planning to add to the negativity surrounding the movie, you can read other reviews from Non-Reggae journalists for that. Again, I also saw what’s lacking, I also saw that Hollywood has its own way in dealing with Biopics and romanticising them. But as a reggae evangelist, I can only be happy that Reggae music, for once, is in the spotlights again. My Whatsapp turned red hot from all the messages I got from people asking me about the movie, or spontanious telling me there is a Marley movie coming.

To wrap it up, we suggest everyone to just go see the movie, sit back, enjoy the music, enjoy the vibes that take you back to the ’70s. Don’t think too much, if you are not a movie critic, and when you don’t know Bob Marleys music yet, learn from it. But mainly learn something from it. More than just being a movie, I think a lot can be learned still from Reggae music, especially in these perilous times. Learn to love your fellow human, no matter the color of their skin, religion, or wherever they come from. The messages in Reggae music are still relevant. Bob Marley was not a messiah, nor a saint, but he did have the power to unite people. Until this day people from every corner of the globe know his music. Lets keep it that way, and instead of bashing an initiative like this, embrace it, for the sake of our beloved reggae music. ONE LOVE!

Danny Creatah