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Bob Marley: One Love

I clearly knew nothing about Bob Marley. Never a huge fan of reggae in general or Marley's music in particular, I approached BOB MARLEY: ONE LOVE with mild curiosity.

Color me impressed.

Flashing back and forth between the 1970s, Marley's youngest days and his teen years, we see his rise from extreme poverty to the biggest music superstar to ever emerge from Jamaica.

The film opens with Marley committed to performing a concert in Jamaica in the middle of a pre-election turf war. All his efforts to remain out of politics come crashing down when armed gunmen shoot his wife Rita (Lashana Lynch from "No Time to Die") and nearly assassinate Marley in his home.

This event changes Marley, who seeks to reunite the people through his music.

Before seeing the film, I would have dismissed that with a laugh.

But Marley's lyrics are powerful poetry. I felt stupid that I had never heard them before the film brought them into view.

Until the philosophy

Which holds one race superior

And another inferior

Is finally

And permanently


And abandoned

Well, everywhere is war

It's Jah war

And until there's no longer

First-class or second-class citizens

Of any nation

Until the color

Of a man's skin

Is of no more significance

Than the color of his eyes

I've got to say war, yeah

And until the basic human rights

Are equally guaranteed to all

Without regard to race

This Jah war

Cause Until that day

The dream of lasting peace

World citizenship

And the rule of international

Morality, yeah

Will remain but a fleeting illusion

To be pursued

But never attained

You have my attention, Mr. Marley.

Kingsley Ben-Adir (Barbie, One Night in Miami) is excellent as Marley, conveying a lot of power and passion in a man who never raises his voice unless it's in song.

It's fascinating to watch the the impact of the changing world on his music, much of which is captured in moments so real they feel almost like a documentary.

James Norton (Little Women) is a standout as Bob's longtime manager, Chris Blackwell as is Anthony Welsh as Marley's booking agent, Don Taylor.

At first, the time leaps from childhood to young man to current Marley are a bit jarring, but they soon settle into a well crafted groove, with each timeline enlightening the next.

Produced by Bob's son, Ziggy, the film doesn't cover up Marley's faults either.

Flawed but committed, he's a complicated man beneath that zen surface.

Ben-Adir and Lynch are powerful together. Their scene outside a posh Paris meet and greet is jarring in its honesty.

We all know Marley died far too young, but I didn't know why.

Watching the way he lives his final years is inspiring and the real life footage of Marley during the end credits only makes you more appreciative for Ben-Adir's performance.

Writer Terence Winter (The Sopranos, The Wolf of Wall Street) deftly navigates decades of history, crafting inspiration out of a life well led.

I found myself really enjoying some of the music that I've never really explored before, having previously lumped all things reggae into one "Jamming" bucket.

Lesson learned.

I really enjoyed ONE LOVE. Turn your lights down low in your concrete jungle and find some redemption in Marley's story. It gets a B.

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