Directed by: Rick Elgood, Don Letts | 90 minutes | drama, romance | Actors: Cherine Anderson, Vas Blackwood, Carl Bradshaw, Idris Elba, Shelaagh Ferrell, Ky-Mani Marley, Alex Rosén, Winston Stona
When you think of Jamaica, you think of idyllic palm beaches. Rum, reggae and rhythm. To men and women who can run very fast. But Jamaica is mainly the island of Bob Marley. The legendary reggae singer, who died in May 1981 at the age of just 36, is still leaving his mark on the island. Meanwhile, his children – eleven of them are officially recognized as the offspring of the reggae legend, but there are probably more of them – working hard. Ky-Mani Marley, born in 1976 from a relationship between Bob and table tennis champion Anita Belnavis, has a career as a musician and actor. In the 2003 film “One Love”, he can combine both his passions. Ky-Mani plays Kassa McKennon, a peace-loving Rastafarian trying to get a career as an artist off the ground. He forms a band with his mates, they rehearse in a park or on the beach.
When a well-known Jamaican radio station organizes a talent show, Kassa is there to sign up. After all, the winner earns a record deal. However, there is fierce competition, including from a gospel band around the beautiful singer Serena (Cherine Anderson). Kassa hears her rehearsing and is immediately impressed. However, her father (Winston Stona), who is a Pentecostal priest, allows Serena to interact only with her own kind of people, so Kassa’s attempt to get her to join the band initially fails. Although Serena seems to be thawing more and more, the more often she bumps into Kassa. The contrast between him and her fiancé Aaron (Idris Elba) – who pretends to have an immaculate image but has enough on his tally – is great. While Kassa is under the spell of the beautiful Serena, his band gets into a fight with the shady record boss Selector G (Winston Bell) and his dangerous sidekick Scarface (Vas Blackwood).
“One Love”, as the name implies, is primarily a romantic film. The romance between Marley (who by the way resembles his father like two drops of water and also sounds the same) and Anderson – partly due to the charisma of the actors – is rock solid. Screenwriter Trevor D. Rhone has made little effort to make it a fresh and original story; “One Love” is bursting with clichés and is also quite predictable. A half-hearted attempt has been made to incorporate some of the problems on the Caribbean island into the story (class differences, intolerance, corruption), but not enough is being done with it. Except for the two central characters, all characters are one-dimensional and flat. This way you immediately feel that the Aaron played by Idris Elba (Stringer Bell from the fantastic HBO series ‘The Wire’) is not good, or at least has a contaminated past, and that the singer from Kassa’s band is trapped of the record boss. That predictability may occasionally disturb, but the sweet romance between Kassa and Serena makes up for it. A fine soundtrack should of course not be missing in a Jamaican production. Especially when Ky-Mani Marley makes music herself, it is impossible to sit still.
“One Love” is a predictable yet swinging Jamaican romance. Not very uplifting, but certainly not bad.