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Searching for Sugar Man

By ROBERT HAM
Gaining an appreciable level of success outside of one’s home country is not an unusual feat. What’s stranger is for that artist to have no clue about his or her fame in some far-flung country until nearly 30 years after the fact. Such is the case with Rodriguez, a Detroit-born musician recognized in the U.S. only by crate diggers and music scholars who revel in the darker recesses of the psychedelic era. In the documentary Searching for Sugar Man, freshman director Malik Bendjelloul reveals that in South Africa, a world away from where they were recorded, his albums were revered. Bendjelloul plays out the story of Rodriguez like a detective novel, adding pieces to the puzzle via interviews with producers who worked with the musician, as well as a South African record-store owner and a journalist who both worked tirelessly to uncover the truth behind Rodriguez’s “disappearance”—the prevailing rumor being that he committed suicide onstage. About halfway through Sugar Man, it is revealed that Rodriguez is alive, well, and still living in Detroit, working as a manual laborer. Once that is uncovered, the now nearly 70-year-old musician is placed in front of the camera. Only then does the film take flight.
 

Special Note

 Fox Tower.
 
  • Genres: Documentary
  • Running Time: 86 minutes
  • Release Date: Friday, July 27, 2012
  • Country: Sweden
  • Language: English
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13 [ Brief Strong Language, Some Drug References ]
  • Critic's Score: B-
  • Directed by: Malik Bendjelloul [Director], John Battsek [Executive Producer], George Chignell [Producer], Simon Chinn [Producer], Nicole Stott [Producer]
  • Watch the trailer
 

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