Film review: Searching For Sugar Man

16:00, Oct 12 2012
sugar man
CULT FIGURE: Musician Sixto Rodriguez became a hero in South Africa.

 

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN (85 min) (doco)

Directed by Malik Bendjelloul.

 

Sixto Rodriguez released two albums in the early 1970s. They both flopped in the United States and Rodriguez went back to his day job. But unbeknown to anyone in the US – except possibly the accountants at the record company – Rodriguez began to sell well in a few other countries, especially South Africa, where he became a cult figure.

Searching for Sugar Man follows two South African writers as they journey to the US to try to find what became of their hero. For years it was rumoured that Rodriguez had died. The truth, as the world now knows, was very different.

This is a grand story, well told. If you're a fan of Rodriguez's music – think Cat Stevens/Donovan/ early Dylan – you'll love this. Or if you just appreciate a fascinating yarn; one with insights into apartheid-era South Africa, as well as the music business, then I can't recommend this highly enough. I'm sure the film-makers have compressed and elided here and there, but this is still a likeable, credible, and eventually immensely moving film.

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