“The best sequence in Marley, Kevin Macdonald‘s sprawling, 2 1/2 hour chronicle of Bob Marley’s legacy, arrives at the very end,” says Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn. “While the credits roll, Macdonald shows Marley fans around the world singing his greatest hits. The diverse cultures and appearances, united by Marley’s lyrics and good vibes, speak to the singer’s global effect — as well as its lasting appeal today.
“It’s enough to make the fairly conventional overview of his career preceding the finale look comparatively tame. Despite its breadth, Marley delivers little more than a well-crafted overview sure to please diehard fans while leaving others unmoved.
“However, Macdonald’s approach gives a definitive feel to Marley, from its earliest moments tracking the singer from his impoverished Jamaican roots through the apex of his stardom and final days of a losing battle with cancer. Macdonald’s massive list of talking heads includes close relatives, childhood friends, former bandmates and producers, each of whom contributes to the movie’s fluid structure. It’s easy to get swept up in the Marley fever when virtually every subject has something overly kind and even worshipful to say about Marley’s legacy.
“However, this also creates a certain padding around the titular figure, not unlike the issue plaguing Martin Scorsese‘s equally detailed George Harrison: Living in the Material World last year: The ‘authorized’ stature challenges the movie’s authority over the topic. Rather than deconstruct the legend, Macdonald accepts it unquestioned, if only because the interviewees control the tenor of the narrative. Instead of peeking behind the curtain, Macdonald marvels at its surface.”