Searching for Sugar Man takes the unsuspecting viewer on an amazing journey of how a career that almost never was makes a remarkable comeback.
The documentary tells the story of Rodriguez, who after a brief stint in the music industry 40 years ago disappeared after failing to set the charts alight. However the story was quite different in South Africa as this mysterious musician, who many describe as anti-establishment, helped inspire and motivate a generation and in turn helped to aid a revolution.
This amazing story is not what I expected, when I first heard about the documentary I expected it to be just a little detail about how he apparently failed in the music industry only to be brought back years later as a bit of commodity, I couldn’t have been anymore wrong if I’d tried. This documentary takes you on a journey through the life of Rodriguez’ music, from its humble beginnings in smoke filled bars to recording his first album only to be dropped by the label when it didn’t set the charts alight. Then it takes us to South Africa where the artist made a huge and lasting impression.
Finally, after a long hunt to discover this mysterious musician – who many had thought was dead – the documentary uncovers him and brings him back into the spotlight to do what he does best, and find out what he’d been doing in his nearly 30-year musical absence.
This film is really sweet and touching as we see someone filled with talent finally make it after being discarded and discover the success he knew nothing about. The film makes you think about just how many talented individuals are out there that have succumbed to the same fate.
It’s also an excellent observation of how shallow and harsh the music business can be (Clarence Avant comes across as a less than favourable individual), and also an insight into how bad censorship can be for individuals.
Helped along by excellent and artistic looking visuals and a superb soundtrack, which is the music of the films enigmatic hero, this is more than just a documentary; it’s a real life rags to riches story twice over.
Overall Verdict: A remarkable and unique documentary everyone should see.
Reviewer: Lewis Shepherd