This remarkable, magical documentary featuring a musician/composer who unbeknownst to him nurtured a revolution.
Sixto Rodriguez, son of Mexican immigrants; masked by sunglasses and long black hair, playing guitar, singing in drab, dingy bars in dark and depressed corners of Detroit, Michigan; his lyrics redolent of the late 60’s and early 70’s, scintillate with the ache of the common man, scream with the torture of a fractured heart, pound with the potency of being oneself; songs, so true, uplifting, spiritual, throats thickened, eyes glistened, souls rejoiced. Failed sales of his recordings forced him to continue to work as a mechanic, construction worker, raising three daughters, resigned, uncomplaining. All the while, a world away, his poetic, inspirational lyrics touch the cords in “anti-apartheid” South Africa; primarily bootlegged, in a press- restricted, pre-internet environment “Rodriguez” takes on epic proportions; the fostered myth of his sensational suicide, fuel the creation of an icon, a martyred, misunderstood genius; a man who recognized and lionized the simple, ordinary folk; he bestows dignity, elegance, eloquence on the ignored, disenfranchised.
Director Malik Bendjelloul discovers “Rodriguez” (album “Cold Fact”) at a Cape Town record shop, “Mabu Vinyl”; hence the glorious resurrection commences. “Searching for Sugar Man” is an exceptionally compelling film with dynamic contracts; the brutal, unrelenting, unforgiving winters of Detroit, bifurcated by the luxurious, lush landscape of balmy Cape Town; loneliness of a man treading gloveless, through snow- entrenched streets, a guitar his solitary companion, versus the monumental idolatry of South African audiences; touching, insightful commentaries by his friends and daughters, contrasting with astonishment, worship of young, idealistic fans.
The film shimmers with the portrait of a man of immense humility, devoid of materialism; he is shamanistic, enigmatic; untouchable, indescribable; his lyrics speak volumes, they originate from the core of a truly pure, talented and good man; they awaken feelings long dormant or never explored. Sixto Rodriguez is a man of grace, a man for all ages, seasons, generations.
FOUR & 1/2 STARS!!!!