I was scrolling through Netflix looking for a good documentary to watch. I wanted something happy and uplifting and came across Searching for Sugar Man. I recognized the title because my friend had recommended it to me a few months ago, but I never got around to it. I decided to give it a go. I’m glad I did because it was fucking awesome.
It’s the real life story of Rodriguez, a forgotten Detroit musician who was active in the late ’60s and early ’70s. His sound was like a more urban Bob Dylan, there’s a gritty poetry to his lyrics. He released a few albums but they didn’t sell well in the US and he was dropped from his label.
His music somehow became popular in South Africa and he became a cultural icon there. However this was during apartheid so South Africa was isolated from the world. Nobody knew anything about him except for his name and his music. The documentary explores his impact on the South African music scene and follows two fans trying to track down information on who he was and how he died.
It’s a pretty riveting story. Writer and director Malik Bendjelloul does a good job of introducing Rodriguez’s music and the reasons why his songs are still relevant. The soundtrack is comprised entirely of Rodriguez songs. The film won the 2012 Oscar for Best Documentary so you know it is good. Spoiler Alert: there is a happy twist part way through that might just shock you if you aren’t familiar with the story. I highly recommend Searching for Sugar Man.
Critically Rated at 16/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young