SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN
Good Rewards Come to Those Who Wait
Release Date: July 27, 2012
Audience: Older children to adults
Runtime: 85 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics/Sony
Director: Malik Bendejelloul
Executive Producer: John Battsek
Producer: Simon Chinn
Address Comments To:Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, Co-Presidents
Sony Pictures Classics (Sony Pictures Entertainment)
550 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 833-8833; Fax: (212) 833-8844
Web Page: www.sonyclassics.com; Email: Sony_Classics@spe.sony.com
Several people recall how Rodriguez recorded two albums in 1970 and 1971 that failed miserably in the United States. Ten years later in South Africa, a bootleg copy of the first album, COLD PLAY, made the rounds. The album’s gritty, poetic lyrics about urban life, including several protest songs, inspired many young white South Africans, including budding musicians, to protest apartheid. At the same time, rumors persisted that the reason Rodriguez no longer was recording albums was because he killed himself on stage out of despair.
A couple South African fans in the late 1990s decided to investigate Rodriguez and find out more about him. They followed clues from his lyrics and the money trail of who gets Rodriguez’s royalties. What follows next is truly an amazing story.
The filmmakers of SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN do a masterful job of holding viewers in suspense as viewers wonder whether Rodriguez is actually dead or alive. They dole out the information in perfect pace with the way that the two fans in South Africa of Rodriguez learn the answers. Most of the movie is filled with a sad sense of wonder and beauty as it reveals what happened to Rodriguez.
[SPOILER ALERT] Eventually, viewers learn that Rodriguez is still alive. The two fans finally find the man, after one of his three adult daughters surprisingly discovers the South African website devoted to her father and his music. The ending shows Rodriguez and his family traveling to South Africa in 1998 to perform, with great acclaim from his many fans. It’s extremely touching as this relatively humble and unassuming man enjoyably basks in their acclaim.
The movie reveals that, all this time, Rodriguez spent his life raising his daughters while working the hardest of manual labor and construction jobs. More than anything, it shows a man who tried to commit beauty to records, and provides a strong sense of uplift as he finally gets his shot at success again. The effect provides a feeling of hope and resilience, that good work will eventually be noticed. When Rodriguez finally starts getting his long-lost, long-overdue acclaim, the movie takes on a sweeping and powerful upbeat tone by showing that – sometimes – dreams, patience, and good work eventually will be noticed and rewarded. The effect gives the movie’s ending a feeling of hope and resilience.
SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN contains brief foul language, including one “f” word. There’s also a repeated reference to a lyric about marijuana, and one about fornication, in a song called “Sugar Man.” The South African government once banned “Sugar Man” because of these two references. The movie also briefly mentions that Rodriguez once ran for Detroit Mayor on a socialist ticket. Consequently, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.
SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN does a masterful job of holding viewers in suspense as it explores whether Rodriguez is dead or alive. As he finally gets another shot at success, it provides a feeling of hope and resilience: That good work and patience eventually will be noticed and rewarded. SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN warrants extreme caution. That’s mostly due to brief foul language and a couple lyrics lightly referring to marijuana and fornication.