One Love is a Rastafarian Contact High

17th Dallas International Film Festival

“Blessed are the peacemakers.” – JC

If you can get past these next few intentionally long sentences, you might enjoy this review / more like a background of One Love. I wasn’t alive when Bob Marley stepped from mere talent into becoming an unassuming world power. On a smaller scale of power, that’s exactly what he was. 

Not to insult historians nor socioeconomic PHDs, a sum occurrence gripping Jamaica during the 70s could be remembered as relentless poverty-stricken situations where the value of a nation was exploited by a group of elite and the lower two classes reap nothing, building a divide of ever-growing hate and bitterness. Here then comes a leader who promotes socialism as the answer. He promises a way to freedom with lists of the ways and lists of utopian ideas. But that leader cannot deliver because all financial resources to create the avenues and agencies of people to maintain a path to true socialism, where capitalism still offers prosperity in reach, has been inconveniently left with elites still exploiting the value of a nation. It’s a super basic briefing on the temperature of the predominate social rift in the 70s in a small, recently-independent-of-England country; still, it’s necessary to take us toward the underlying significance of Reinaldo Marcus Green’s One Love.

The One Love Concert was an attempt to cool tension between the PNP socialist movement led by Michael Manley with the JLP and the People's Party candidate Edward Seaga.

Bob Marley didn’t mind too much of political details. He wanted peace for the people. He wanted everyone to get along. He wanted love. Anyone smoking as much weed as he did would want the same. Especially living wedged in conflict. So, the marijuana illuminated (wink) a spirit of calm. And that is what this movie is about. The nature of Rastafari, which is taking in large amounts of the herb (as stated in the Bible – well, not the large amounts bit, but Rastafaris have interpreted it in their own way). Joking aside, their religion is peace, love, reflection. Rastafari philosophy, through means of words, guides by disassembling calamity, talking it over, and singing about it. Through the energy of Bob Marley and his band, Bob Marley and the Wailers, their message rapidly spread across the globe. Lyrics and ideas were based on their interpretation of the Bible, and mostly the New Testament with a strong focus on Revelation. 

Rastas work everything out through calm discussion. There is quite a bit of dialogue in this film, but you might, and that is a seriously weighted MIGHT, only understand 30 percent of what they say. The dialect is THICK. Understood or not, this was actually a part of the film I appreciated so much. Kingsley Ben-Adir doesn’t miss a beat with his Jamaican accent. And it makes the story feel that much more sincere. It’ll just need a revisit with subtitles on once it streams.

Kingsley Ben-Adir moves so much like the artist ... Bob Marley if you're watching, I hope you're proud.

I don’t read reviews others publish before I write, but I have seen headlines stating this film did not hit its mark. It’s important in order to appreciate an art film, one of the nontypical, millwork type “stuff”, to understand the point first. Or rather, to understand the desire of ideas from its makers. Stamped and approved by Bob Marley’s sons in this case. Instead of writing a college paper full of all things Rastafarian, please check the link to this page below out if you plan to see One Love.

The talented music born inside Bob Marley propelled him to be a Rastafarian Leader. Though never explicitly inaugurated as such, on his birth certificate his middle name is/was Nesta, meaning messenger. It’s intriguing, the power of names. Thank you, Bob Marley’s mom. Make a special note of scattered symbols throughout, not just symbolism in the phrases you understand but the actual use of symbols from colors, their flag, to the importance of Ethiopia.

Rasta Symbols and Their Meanings | Rastaverse – #1 Rastafar Resource Hub

This version of Bob Marley, exquisitely played to drunken your senses by Kingsley Ben-Adir, wins over Marley’s true family members, and, he definitely won me over. What this film lacks in ability to pace details, it recovers with Ben-Adir’s performance. Hot off the press with a small plastic surface comedic role in Barbie, he shifts into an intensely retrospective lover of humanity with the pauses timed just right and almost too long. Again, One Love is about the religion. Every scripted page is. As I dove into research mode to find truth about the film, I found this was everything to Bob Marley. And yes, much of the story is accurate.

Potential Spoiler in a question: what is with the repeated use of fire in multiple montages. If anyone smoked as much pot as Marley did? They would become peace crusaders too. He allegedly smoked A POUND of weed a week. Is this the provocation for all the fire scattered in dashes of dreams? Was it from sitting around a fire with father figures while coming of age hashing out truth from farce? Or is it a burning of past dreams to know the man who brought him into the world? Add to the rabbit hole that just took me for a ride, I found out his perpetrator’s jail cell caught on fire as he awaited sentencing. The symbolism is there. But you have to work at it. This film takes work. If you plan to see it, read about Rastafari first. 

Throughout his life he had one main woman who stayed by him and helped raise his 12 children. Rita Marley played by Lashana Lynch.

The Abrahamic Bible-influenced Rastafari religion seeks truth of matters and a completely nature-driven life. And that means the sum of these two divine theories deliver peace. His performance alone makes all the parts you don’t understand bearable. Trust this, you’ll at least get to know a part of a very interesting man. Correction, a very interesting soul.

15th Dallas International Film Festival