I thought the new music documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, was going to be just another in a long line of interesting but forgettable stories. What I didn’t expect was to be moved by not just the narrative but also the heart and soul of the artist. This is not only a must see for anyone who calls themselves a songwriter and musician but for those who love the power that music has to lift a person, and in this case a country, out of the depths of despair.
Rodriguez was a songwriter/musician from the streets of Detroit in the early 1970’s. With the political and social insights of Bob Dylan, Rodriguez was able to poetically transfer the poverty he saw into music that met a cultures need. Though little known in his own country he was touching, unbeknownst to him or the record label, the lives of many in apartheid torn South Africa. This film documents the two South Africans who set out to discover what happened to their musical hero.
The key to a good documentary is to allow the viewer to discover the facts right along with those on the journey. You share in the joy and exhilaration as these guys go on a hunt to find out more about this elusive folk star. The more info they uncover the more you get caught up in the mystery. What you start to discover is the heart of the artist. A humble and simplistic man who will not only make you search your own soul but cause you to see the world around you in a different perspective.
Director Malik Bendjelloul melds the two nations, and the past and present,into an easy to follow narrative. He pieces the footage together so it moves at a steady pace yet still gives you lots of intriguing info. The film also plays like a music video as it uses the powerful songs from Rodriguez’s first album as the soundtrack against the backdrop of impoverished Detroit.
At times you feel like this has to be too good to be true. A fairy tale could not be written as beautiful and poignant as this real life account. How one humble man could strengthen a nation through song. Then how two men would go on journey in search of their cultural, rock and roll, super hero. What they find will move you to tears while filling your heart with joy.
Searching for Sugar Man is rated PG-13 for brief strong language and some drug references. The expletives are mild and not rampant. This is certainly a movie for adults due to the theme and dramatic storytelling. Again, if you are a fan of music legends, even ones you may never have heard of, this is a must see. I give it 5 out of 5 royalties. It made me not only appreciate the man but caused me to remember the essence of the true heartbeat of music.
Review copyright 2012 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.