Searching for Sugar Man is a documentary about a late-60s singer/songwriter simply known as “Rodriguez”. He was a mysterious character; doing all his business dealings on street corners and basically being a homeless artist. To the few people in America who bought his records, he was on the level of Bob Dylan. But he never quite hit it big, and his record sales were almost non-existent. After three years in the business, he faded into obscurity, and rumor had it that he committed suicide (by lighting himself on fire on stage). Little did Rodriguez know, but his debut album sold over half a million copies in South Africa, and is considered as important an album as Abbey Road to the people over there. But Rodriguez never saw a dime of that money, and never even knew that he was a superstar in another country. The film explores the mystery of Rodriguez, why he never got his money, and why he never hit it big.
I think this is such a brilliantly constructed documentary. So well designed and edited. The filmmakers took all the knowledge they had on Rodriguez and they formed a story as good as most fiction films. And it takes twists and turns as good as a Hollywood film as well. I don’t want to give too much away about the story of Rodriguez, because it’s a very rewarding experience to just let it play out in front of your eyes, and it tickled my heart strings. It’s a sad premise, but it turns into a feel good story.
It reminded me a little bit of Anvil: The Story of Anvil, about a band with great potential that didn’t go anywhere, then ends up sinking into depressing obscurity. Only Anvil was more of a comedy, since the guys in that band where ridiculous. But Searching for Sugar Man really explores the depressing nature of being a great artist with nowhere to go but down, and gives you the heartwarming feeling of finally seeing someone’s legacy get its well deserved respect.
It’s only 87 minutes, and the doc is so intriguing that it still felt like it flew by in under an hour. Maybe if you really hate classic rock you won’t like this film as much as I did, but I think you can look past the actual music and still get a lot out of it. I loved it. Searching for Sugar Man is available now on Blu-ray/DVD, and I watched it for $4 on Amazon Prime Instant Video.
9.5 out of 10