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More than One Love for Marley music

The title Bob Marley: One Love comes with a couple of ironic points. For instance, the famous One Love song plays over end credits rather than as a significant part of the story. And two: Marley’s number of affairs and children went beyond one love, something only marginally addressed in the biopic. But such biopics often get by without detailed profiles when they contain the genre’s two basic requirements—a strong leading performance combined with lots of music. One Love provides both. Kingsley Ben-Adir channels the world-famous reggae artist, while the soundtrack features 17 songs during the movie’s one hour, forty-four-minute run time. Anyone who counts Marley music as one of their loves can certainly find much to enjoy and celebrate in a mix of deceptively happy, upbeat tunes whose lyrics often contain darker social commentary. Though director Reinaldo Marcus Green and his screenwriting team of Terence Winter, Frank E. Flowers, and Zach Baylin include elements of poverty, violence, and religion that affected Marley, most feels more like a recitation of fact rather than an exploration for insight. Flashbacks offer some background material, with the screenplay zooming in on a brief period bookended by two significant concerts Marley gave in his homeland.  Focusing more on songs gives actor Ben-Adir the chance to show his chops in a physical performance using Marley’s Jamaican lilt and energetic stage gyrations. With such natural ease that he comes across as a Jamaican native, the actor’s resume reflects his other skills, showing up as one of Barbie’s Kens or with a fine turn as Malcom X for One Night in Miami.  Ben-Adir gets fine support from others including Lashana Lynch as Marley’s wife and member of his backup singing group, the Wailers. Lynch once again demonstrates the commanding presence she showed as a warrior in The Woman King. Dedicated actors joined by a story full of catchy songs means One Love features high points and hits biopic markers by giving fans another round of Marley music.

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