In Praise Of ‘Searching For Sugar Man’

Typically, we here at UPROXX leave the film reviews to the Film Drunk crew, but I saw something over the weekend that I thought was so incredible, that moved me so deeply, that I can’t not share my love and enthusiasm for it with all of you. So this really isn’t a review as much as an admonishment from an evangelist — go see this amazing documentary.

I’m talking about Searching For Sugar Man and I’m hesitant to tell you all too much about it because I think the film is best viewed knowing as little as possible about it going in. But because I know many of you (I’m the same way, btw) refuse to see a movie in a theater without having at least a hint of what you’re in for, I’ll just paste the film’s Rotten Tomatoes synopsis below, as I think it does a good job of summarizing everything without spoiling much.

Searching for Sugar Man tells the incredible true story of Rodriguez, the greatest ’70s rock icon who never was. Discovered in a Detroit bar in the late ’60s by two celebrated producers struck by his soulful melodies and prophetic lyrics, they recorded an album which they believed would secure his reputation as the greatest recording artist of his generation. In fact, the album bombed and the singer disappeared into obscurity amid rumors of a gruesome on-stage suicide. But a bootleg recording found its way into apartheid South Africa and, over the next two decades, he became a phenomenon. The film follows the story of two South African fans who set out to find out what really happened to their hero. Their investigation leads them to a story more extraordinary than any of the existing myths about the artist known as Rodriguez.

If that’s not enough, below is the UK trailer for the film. It’s much less spoiler-y than the US trailer, I think.

Are you sold yet? If not let me say this: the story this is based on is one of the most incredible stories I’ve ever heard. It’s sort of like a real-life Disney fairy tale. If it were presented in a work of fiction it would likely be deemed too improbable to be believable by many. And if that’s not enough, the unsung hero in this story is none other than the internet.

So go see Searching For Sugar Man. And if you have a friend who’s a struggling artist of some sort, drag them to the theater with you. This will be food for their soul, as it will yours, but theirs especially. Oh, and don’t read or watch anything else about it until you’ve seen it, lest it likely be spoiled in some way for you. One last thing that makes this possible Oscar winning film even more mind-blowing: first-time director Malik Bendjelloul shot much of it on his iPhone with a $1.00 Super 8 app. Um, YEAH.

Feel free to come back and let me know what you think of the film in the comments after you’ve seen it. Now excuse me while I go back to listening to the film’s incredible soundtrack, which I’ve been listening to on repeat pretty much constantly since Saturday.