By Lynn Venhaus

As good as Kingsley Ben-Adir is portraying the reggae icon in “Bob Marley: One Love,” the movie’s script fails to hit the right notes, and the result is a disjointed, unsatisfying profile.

Made in partnership with Marley’s widow Rita and two children Ziggy and Cedella, the film celebrates Marley’s life and music as Jamaica’s most famous citizen who never wavered in his message of love and unity, broke boundaries and promoted healing in his country – although the timeline is wonky here.

The trio of screenwriters Zach Baylin, Frank E. Flowers and Terence Winter plus director Reinaldo Marcus Green narrowly focused on the years 1976-1978, when Marley was at the height of his career, and then he learned he had cancer. Now, granted, this isn’t a documentary, it’s “inspired by a true story,” but they have left out some key details of his life.

At the onset, the film explains that warring political factions heightened danger on the island, and an assassination attempt was made on Marley’s life. On Dec. 3, 1976, two days before the free Smile Jamaica Concert he organized, he was wounded, Rita was shot in the head, and manager Don Taylor had serious injuries.

He moved to London to escape, toured Europe, and recorded his acclaimed album “Exodus.” (He also made “Kaya” then, but that’s omitted).

When a toe injury didn’t heal, he was diagnosed with acral lentiginous melanoma, a rare skin cancer, but didn’t stop touring – for a while. (Tragically, he died at age 36 in 1981, after cancer spread to other areas).

Green, who directed “King Richard” about Venus and Serena Williams’ father, presents part of Marley’s journey in flashbacks that focus on imagery without context – his childhood years with a white absentee father, and he leaves with his mother, plus nods to his faith in Rastafari. Those, in repetition, cloud the story instead of illuminate.

The film mentions Haile Selassie I, the emperor of Ethiopia who was considered a god in the religion, but doesn’t explain much about it. Rastafari originated in poor Afro-Jamaican communities in the 1930s as reaction to British Colonial culture and is rooted in Protestant Christianity and mysticism.

Marley’s relationship with his wife, Rita, well-played by Lashana Lynch, began as teenagers, and she was also in his band, The Wailers, as one of the back-up singers of “I Threes” after Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer left. They married in 1966. Both came from the Trenchtown neighborhood in Kingston.

It is not clear that the three children they had together are among the 11 recognized as Marley’s, for they both had extramarital affairs.  Cedella, David “Ziggy,” and Stephen are theirs, and Bob adopted Sharon, Rita’s daughter from a previous relationship. There is no mention that he had six other children with six different women between 1972 and 1978.

How Marley became a music legend, with his unique blend of reggae, rocksteady, and ska, isn’t given much air either – you’ll have to either be familiar with his rise in the music business or read about it later.

Marley returned to Jamaica in April 1978 to much fanfare, and presented the One Love Peace Concert, his attempt to unite opposing political parties. It is only in the archival footage at the film’s end that the political leaders shake hands – populist prime minister Michael Manley and Edward Seaga, head of the opposing Jamaica Labour Party, but it did not end the island’s violence and political tensions.

In fact, what the movie doesn’t say is that the concert’s two organizers were killed in the years following, and 1,000 more people died in 1979-80.

Now the music is a high point, as expected. Many of the hits, including “Jamming,” “Get Up/Stand Up,” “I Shot the Sheriff,” “One Love/People Get Ready,” and “This Is Love” are included in the soundtrack.

One of the most touching scenes is when Marley plays “The Redemption Song” for his family while sitting around a fire, and his wife asks him: “When did you write that?” and he answers: “All my life.”

Ben-Adir, who was impressive as Malcolm X in “One Night in Miami” and amusing as one of the Kens in “Barbie,” immerses himself in a virtuoso performance. Not only did he nail the accent, speech pattern and movements of the man, but he also sang and played guitar.

Kris Bowers composed the film’s score, using Marley’s music as a foundation. Costume designer Anna B. Sheppard captured the culture and the period well, as did production designer Chris Lowe.

Despite the appealing music and the mega-watt turn by Ben-Adir, “Bob Marley: One Love” is too fragmented. It fails to offer something more scintillating overall, and lands merely as an average Hollywood biography.

“Bob Marley: One Love” is a 2024 biopic directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and starring Kingsley Ben-Adir, Lashana Lynch, and James Norton. It is rated PG-13 and the runtime is 1 hour, 47 minutes. It opens on Wednesday, Feb. 14. Lynn’s Grade: C.

By Lynn Venhaus

A poorly constructed storyline squanders a good cast in “Things Heard & Seen,” an unsatisfying adaptation of the bestselling novel “All Things Cease to Appear” by Elizabeth Brundage.

When George Claire (James Norton) accepts a teaching offer at a small liberal arts college in the Hudson Valley, he relocates his wife, Catherine (Amanda Seyfried), a Manhattan artist, and their 4-year-old daughter Franny (Ana Sophia Heger) to an old farmhouse. The home has a dark history and sinister things start happening.

Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini seem to be odd choices to write and direct this multi-generational story that abandons that idea. They were Oscar-nominated for the screenplay of “American Splendor,” which they directed.

However, they can’t make up their mind whether to concentrate on being a paranormal activity horror film or a thriller about a sociopathic husband. Pick a lane, people – and neither is convincing.

James Norton, a British actor last seen as Meg’s husband in Greta Gerwig’s 2019 “Little Women,” is an implausible cad with a wandering eye – picking up chicks at the local library with his daughter in tow. He is built up as a golden boy, a hotshot art historian whose students worship him, but then turns deceitful on a dime.

Of course, he doesn’t believe his wife about her supernatural suspicions. A feeble Amanda Seyfried, whose character is bulimic, seems lost in this stale role. A controlling George thinks she’s losing it – no surprise there. And she is thoroughly in the dark about his duplicitous double life. When she starts suspecting a crack in his façade, the ghosts turn into sympathetic pals.

The old house is another character, with signs of ghosts that are often used in unimaginative genre films. The set-up early on is where someone should scream “Get out of the house now!” Naturally, the rambling homestead is a remote place, and set in 1980, there is no modern technology that could be used for rescues.

The supporting cast includes Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham as the erudite art department chair, Rhea Seehorn as a sassy weaver on the faculty, Karen Allen as the town realtor, Michael O’Keefe as her husband, also the town sheriff, and Natalia Dyer as a cynical coed. You’d expect that they would have more to do, but nope – rather wasted instead of serving the plot.

With a few genuine moments of suspense, you see where it had potential, but several teases of substantive developments go nowhere, leading to one of the more ridiculous endings in recent memory.

As the third act rushes to conclusion – and people wind up injured or dead after confronting the horrible husband about his misdeeds – one figures out that this has been a huge waste of time.

The only way to enjoy any part of this movie is to revel in the bad dialogue. If you go in realizing that this film is trash, you might have fun with it.

Otherwise, the lack of cohesiveness will be frustrating.

Amanda Seyfried

“Things Heard & Seen” is a 2021 horror-thriller directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, starring Amanda Seyfried, James Norton, F. Murray Abraham, Rhea Seehorn, Natalia Dyer, Karen Allen, Michael O’Keefe. It runs 2 hours, 1 minute and is rated TV-MA. It is now streaming on Netflix. Lynn’s Grade: D-