Casual Critics: The Search for a Lost Musician – A Review of “Searching for Sugar Man”

Searching for Sugar Man, directed by Malik Bendjelloul, is a documentary that tells the story of an “invisible” musical genius, and his profound influence during the rock n’ roll era. Sixto Rodriguez, a humble and grounded musician, acted as a revolutionary icon for the youth of South Africa throughout the 1970s.

Searching for Sugar Man is a true story that brilliantly depicts the music career of a man that “never existed.” Although Rodriquez touched the hearts of thousands of people, he remained a mystery to the rest of the world. To unveil the mystery of the legendary figure, fans worked together in order to analyze Sixto’s well-written lyrics. His impact was tremendous, but his music was the only piece of him that seemed to exist.

This documentary takes the audience on an adventure in which they can experience the fascinating exploration for the “Sugar Man” himself. Malik Bendjelloul’s incredible artistic abilities comment on the film in a unique way that captivates the audience.

The director, Malik Bendjelloul, combines several aspects of art within Searching for Sugar Man. There are many scenes in which Malik’s own drawings supplement the story of Rodriguez. In combination with Sixto’s own music, his animated sketches grab the attention of the audience and spark their curiosity about the disguised figure. In some cases, Malik uses Sixto’s own songs as non-diegetic sound to display different shots in a cohesive manner, but his music also acts as diegetic sound. With this type of sound, the audience can experience the reactions and emotions of individuals as they listened to the music in their past. In addition, Malik does a wonderful job depicting different environments and connecting them with the story of Sixto Rodriguez.

While frequently displaying different interviews, a variety of shots were used to add visual description to the narrative. In one scene, aerial shots and maps were used to describe the location that was being discussed. In the end, Searching for Sugar Man is a visually appealing documentary that proceeds to tell the story of a talented musician who deserves more recognition. In order to understand the reality behind Rodriguez’s mystery, viewing this film is a necessity.

— Reno Stramaglia, Film Blogger

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