This exhaustive and even-handed documentary on the life, music and untimely death of reggae legend Bob Marley is likely to pull off that rarest of non-fiction feats – enrapturing both his fans and critics alike.
Generally speaking, music-based documentaries inevitably suffer from looking through rose-tinted glasses. And there was certainly the danger of that being the case with Marley, due to Island Records impresario Chris Blackwell and Marley’s son, Ziggy, both having executive producer credits. However, Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King Of Scotland, Touching the Void) instead delivers a straight-talking insight into the Jamaican superstar, without pulling any punches on Marley’s treatment of his family or the disputes within his band.
Born to a poor, black mother and an absent white father, Marley is depicted as an outsider, who felt rejected by both races, seemingly contributing to his move toward the mystical world of Rastafarianism. Marley also comes across as a highly ambitious womaniser, while his daughter Cedella describes him as a distant, almost cold, father, somebody who always put his entourage first, even in the final days of his 36 years.
The film is set, of course, to the beats of Marley’s music, with a soundtrack that will have you reaching for Legend for weeks to come.
Verdict: Four stars