“Searching for Sugar Man” is a rare example of a documentary that masterfully succeeds in both informing the audience about its topic and entertaining them throughout. With its gripping story and suspenseful structure, audiences will be hooked as they watch the film progress.
The subject of the documentary is a talented folk musician in the early ’70s named Rodriguez, who disappeared after releasing two albums. The film follows two fans of the artist, Stephen “Sugar” Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom, who go on a search to find out what became of the mysterious musician. However, the quest proves difficult because, despite his extreme popularity in the fans’ home country of South Africa, barely anyone has heard of Rodriguez elsewhere. Even in South Africa, very little information on him is available due to the censoring apartheid government at the time, which has caused many to believe that the man was just simply dead.
Additionally, because Rodriguez’s brilliant music is featured as the film’s soundtrack, the audience quickly becomes engrossed in his sound. His songs, which are reminiscent lyrically and musically of Bob Dylan, pertain to emotional topics, such as love and family. As the film progresses and the journey unfolds, the songs are accordingly placed in emotional moments, causing them to stick in the minds of the audience.
Director Malik Bendjelloul succeeds with his compilation of the several-year journey the film follows. However, he manages to condense it into a neatly packaged, 86-minute story that doesn’t lose the audience’s attention for a moment.
With its captivating story and engaging subject matter, “Searching for Sugar Man” comes together brilliantly. A sure fire contender in this year’s Best Documentary category at the Oscars, “Searching for Sugar Man” will certainly entertain audiences of all ages.
Overall Rating: 3 1/2 stars
‘Searching For Sugar Man’ is a documentary surrounding ’70s folk musician Rodriguez and the mystery behind his disappearance.