In the 1970's, a musician named Sixto Rodriguez released a few records that failed to resonate with American audiences. Meanwhile, in South Africa, his music came to signify the opposition to apartheid and he became more popular than Elvis and the Rolling Stones. Too bad he died before he could ever perform for his fans. Or did he?
In the Oscar-nominated documentary Searching for Sugar Man, filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul explores the American legend that few Americans know, the reasons for his massive success halfway around the world and the false rumors that surrounded his alleged death.
It's an interesting tale. An Oscar worthy one? Not so much.
Searching for Sugar Man is a well made documentary with the right blend of face interviews and reused footage. Bendjelloul takes great care with his subject and tells Rodriguez's story in a compelling way. He takes great advantage of Rodriguez's music (which is pretty good) and the movie gets better as the story unfolds.
I don't really get what all the hype is about, however. Searching for Sugar Man is decent but unremarkable. The documentary is interesting but not spellbinding; there is nothing groundbreaking about the presentation nor topic, or any real reason to watch it unless you truly care about musicians you've never heard of.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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