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Flicks With Nicki – ‘Bob Marley: One Love’

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Flicks With Nicki – ‘Bob Marley: One Love’

“Bob Marley: One Love” theatrical release poster. (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

Though I was born in Jamaica, my family made our exodus to the United States when I was two years old. My parents were conservative, so Bob Marley’s music was not played in my house when I was a child. They weren’t comfortable with Rastafarians and revolution. Jamaica, like other countries after British rule, suffered a time of social unrest. Many Jamaicans left the island for England, Canada, and America. It was important to have little pieces of home with us. Food. Music. 

My parents loved all kinds of music, and eventually, Bob Marley was added to my dad’s record collection.

“Bob Marley: One Love” covers the life of Robert Nesta Marley from 1976 to 1978. As the movie starts, Marley (Kingsley Ben-Adir) is already well-known enough to be a global icon and targeted by assassins. He has his family, wife Rita (Lashana Lynch) and kids. He has his band the Wailers and the music. His world is plagued by gang violence and political upheaval that the movie only hints at.

We start in the middle of the action. Shooters enter his house, then there is a concert, and Bob quickly goes to England. He sends his family to his mother in Delaware. England and Delaware seem like anti-havens for this family of Rastafarians. There is little context for who Bob is other than the man we already know through his music. The rest of the backstory is given in little vignettes that show us Marley as a child and young man. In true Jamaican fashion, Robert has many names. We learn that to his close friends, he is also Bobby and Skipper.

The story alludes to big topics. Colorism, religion, fatherhood, motherhood, politics, and peace. But we don’t delve into any of them. Marley’s life was filled with many juxtapositions. A man who was abandoned by his father, who then fathers a dozen kids. A husband who cannot be faithful. A spiritual leader who yearns for peace while avoiding the reality of people and politics.

I enjoyed the movie, though it was imperfect. I wanted more insights. I wanted to understand how Marley found his voice. I wanted to see him find himself through music and religion. I wanted to know why they hinted at the other women in his life without letting them be fully present. 

Still, I was moved by the story. The idea of unity and love. The fragile power of being a messenger. What happens when your death is coming soon, and you are waiting for it?

Lynch is luminous and powerful as Rita. Ben-Adir’s performance alone makes it worth a watch. He is a long-limbed runner and has a quiet spirit. After just seeing him in “Barbie,” his transformation was convincing, and he made the music come alive. Despite the fact the story did not go deep enough, they were Bob and Rita. Their acting went deep enough to lift the movie up.

I am biased. I liked “Bob Marley: One Love” because I wanted to see a bit of Jamaica on the big screen and learn a little about his life. A life that touched people around the globe. That’s the power of music. Music teaches us things we wouldn’t necessarily know. Music takes us to places we wouldn’t normally go. He sings “one love,” and we echo back “one heart.” Even though he’s gone, he still sings. So should we. Grade B-

Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a writer, story consultant, and working mom.

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