Searching for Sugar Man
Searching for Sugarman: two South African super-fans document their search for information on their illusive musical hero – Rodriguez. As a narrative, the documentary plays it’s hand perfectly – the first half is low-key, indie, explaining (and perhaps slightly exaggerating) the legend: second half is uplifting and fascinating. Rumours of Sugar Man’s on-stage suicide: self-immolation, gunshot, overdose… quite the bizarre list. Naturally, the film is crammed with the music of Rodriguez, which has a timeless quality – no references, all universal themes, feelings and descriptions – also helps that they’re decent tunes. Up until the halfway point I was having some suspicions as it mainly consisted of a few fans and label bigwigs talking about his talent; name-dropping comparisons of popularity and talent with Dylan, Hendrix, Rolling Stones, Elvis etc etc. In the second-half however, you can’t help but smile when you see the footage of his ‘Anvil Moment‘ and realise that he’s a genuine star in S Africa, it’s electrifying. The majority of the footage is well-shot, with some lovely animations and city-scape footage – although there’s several strange shots of him struggling through Detroit weather while the crew film him from a car crawling alongside. Where the film falls down, and prevents it being great (like the aforementioned Anvil) is that it focuses far more on the legend and backstory of Rodriguez, rather than spending quality on-screen time with him. Searching for Sugar Man is a very good documentary: especially as an eye-opening look at the music industry before the digital age, Wikipedia and so forth.
Fantastic documentary, the less you know about it in advance the more you’ll enjou it.