Thursday, April 4, 2013

Searching for Sugar Man review

I watched this film a long time ago, so if I forget something, don't get mad at me. But I wanted to write a review of the Oscar-winning documentary because it's so beloved by film audiences (the DVD box flaunts a 100% audience approval rating. I had a different opinion. I enjoyed the music and the story, but it all felt like a bunch of loose ends that didn't tie together. There are stretches where the film is really good but honestly, if you already were told the story of Searching for Sugar Man because they loved it, then you don't need to see the movie.

Searching for Sugar Man is a documentary about a long-lost Detroit musician named Sixto Rodriguez. He produced a few albums in the early 1970's, with the most famous being Cold Fact, and then disappeared off the map. The albums didn't sell. Somehow, the albums found their way to South Africa and become sensations. Searching for Sugar Man chronicles the search of two South African fans to find Rodriguez and bring him back to the country. The documentary is set in the 1990's.

It is a good story. There are lots of awesome facts in the film and it's a feel good story about a lost musician. The soundtrack is also off the hook. I had never heard of this guy before watching this film and after seeing it, I wanted to buy his music. It's a really good soundtrack for those of you who like classic rock and folk music  like me. The songs "Sugar Man" and "I Wonder" are great tracks and his two biggest albums, Cold Fact and Coming from Reality should be in everyone's iTunes collection.

My problem was the execution of the film. It tries to do way too many things at once. They bounce back and forth between different people who know Rodriguez and there are a lot of elements to this bizarre story that aren't fleshed out enough. There's a subplot about Rodriguez not getting the money he deserved due to corporate greed. There is one interview with a Motown executive. Nothing else. The film's length is nice and compact, but it prevents you from looking at this story deeper and finding more interesting facts about Sixto Rodriguez.

I guess my main problem, which isn't a discredit to the film, was that I knew the story. I had heard from many sources, the tale of Sixto Rodriguez and while watching the film, wasn't amazed by any of the crazy facts that they threw at me. I just was bored the entire time.

I think that people who don't know much about this story should watch this film. Because it is a really cool story. Music fans will love it too because of how great Rodriguez's music is. It's a hidden gem. And historians might like it because it tells of how he impacted apartheid. But if you know this story, there is no need to watch this movie. You'll just be bored.

THE FINAL GRADE:  C                                             (5.6/10)

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