Searching for Sugar Man

by Alan Rapp on October 12, 2012

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Searching for Sugar Man
  • IMDB: link

searching-for-sugar-man-posterOdds are you’ve never heard of Rodriguez, a Detroit folk singer who failed to register a single blip on the American music scene. After releasing two low-selling albums in the early 1970’s the musician disappeared into obscurity by the end of the decade. But that’s only the beginning of the story.

As Rodriguez returned home to work construction and raise a family in Detroit, on the other side of the world his music was making an impact a decade later. In South Africa, Rodriguez’s songs struck a chord with a nation revolting against decades of Apartheid. As he worked minimum wage jobs at home, Rodriguez was becoming a superstar half a world away.

Searching for Sugar Man documents the search begun by two South African fans that led to the kind of heartwarming tale you usually can only find in the movies. Searching for more information about a singer more beloved in their country than Elvis Presley, Stephen “Sugar” Segerman and Craig Strydom began to track down the truth of the musician’s fate among several different rumors of his death.

The search for Rodriguez eventually leads the pair to Detroit, Michigan, and a phone conversation with Rodriguez’s daughter and, well, I don’t want to give too much away here. What I can tell you is Searching for Sugar Man is the kind of near-impossible, inspirational tale that may well bring tears to your eyes before the final credits roll.

Malik Bendjelloul‘s documentary is the kind of story that Hollywood would have to invent if it wasn’t true. The story sells itself, but Bendjelloul deserves credit for framing the tale of the search and discovery and incorporating the locations around Detroit and Cape Town along with archival footages and several of Rodriguez’s songs most will be hearing for the first time. Mystery and failed dreams drive a tale of second chances and a cathartic journey not only for the singer himself but for an entire nation of his fans.

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