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MARIA DUARTE salutes a new biopic of Bob Marley, but is this the ghetto kid who dreamed of Che Guevara and the Black Panthers?

Bob Marley: One Love (12A)
Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green

 
WHILE there have been scores of documentaries made about the legendary Bob Marley, his life, his music and his legacy, this is one of the first big screen biopics made in conjunction with his family. And here, British actor Kingsley Ben-Adir brings him to life in a breathtaking performance in which he simply morphs into the iconic musician. 
 
What follows is a riveting drama, directed and co-written by Reinaldo Marcus Green (King Richard), which focuses primarily upon events between 1976 and 1978, and the creation in London of his album Exodus, hailed by Time magazine as the best album of the 20th century.  
 
Set against the political unrest in Jamaica in December 1976 the film opens with Marley preparing for his pivotal concert Smile Jamaica in Kingston, that aimed to quell the violence taking place in the country at the time. Only two days before he had been gunned down at his home, along with his wife Rita (Lashana Lynch) and his manager Don Taylor in a brutal scene. Yet despite being shot in the arm, he performs at the gig. The mystery of who had ordered the assassination attempt isn’t explored in the film. 
 
Produced by Cedella Marley and Ziggy Marley, two of Marley’s children, his wife Rita and Brad Pitt the film does not dwell on the reggae legend’s philandering ways which resulted in supposedly eleven acknowledged children by seven different mothers, although there is a powerful scene in which Lynch as Rita takes Marley to task over his adultery and proliferating progeny. There are, however, flashbacks to their blossoming romance as youngsters and their enduring love story. 
 
Lynch gives an extraordinary turn as Marley’s wife, his rock and backing singer. Both she and Ben-Adir (fresh from playing Ken in Barbie) are electrifying on screen. The musical sequences, in which Ben-Adir does some of the singing himself, gives you goosebumps. 
 
The drama also examines the star-studded One Love peace concert in Kingston Jamaica in April 1978 which Marley hoped would unite the people and bring peace and stability to this divided and violence stricken country.   
 
The film provides an insightful look into the man, the icon and the journey behind his revolutionary music. 

Out in cinemas February 14

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