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Searching for Sugar Man
REVIEW by Richard Rivera
Remarkable. Insightful. Inspirational.
Searching for Sugar Man is a one-in-a-million turn-of-events story. A documentary that is told in such a compelling manner that it commands your attention as it unravels a musical mystery. It is the story of a extremely gifted but struggling young songwriter-musician from the streets of Detroit who is unaware of the life-changing impact his songs have on people on the other side of the globe. Literally.
The haunting lyrics, notable songs, vintage video footage from the 70’s, outstanding cinematography and editing make it obvious why this film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary of 2013. But most of all it is the story: the mystery of who was Rodriguez captivates as a well-honed tale that is meticulously crafted and keeps you engaged through the various twists and turns of fate.
This was 36-year-old Swedish director’s Malik Bendjelloul first feature film and it displays every ounce of energy and passion the director had for this story. From the snowy nighttime exteriors of Detroit’s ramshackle streets to the dawn lit towers of Cape Town, South Africa, and the revealing interviews of people who knew Rodriguez in 1970, Searching for Sugar Man is comparable to the most perplexing detective stories, with the exception that it really happened. It is all true.
I have purposely avoided giving away details of this film because it is something you need to discover for yourself. If you love stories of gifted artists and timeless songs with lyrics that are every bit as incisive as Bob Dylan’s or lyrical as Jim Croce’s, then avoid reading reviews and let this story unfold before you. Allow yourself to be mesmerized by this tale of poverty, musical talent, and discovery.
Searching for Sugar Man is a great film. A masterfully told story by any standards. Watch it.
August 30, 2015
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