Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32
  1. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Oct 19, 2012
    100
    All music docs are not created equal. Yes, some are formulaic. But some are beautiful, some are singular, some are marvels of storytelling. And some, like Searching for Sugar Man, are all three.
  2. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Sep 14, 2012
    100
    It starts as a bittersweet parable about the cruelty of commerce, but the wonder of Searching for Sugar Man will not soon slip away.
  3. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Aug 8, 2012
    100
    The information they eventually dislodge about Rodriguez suggests a secular saint, a deeply good man, whose music is the expression of a blessed inner being. I hope you're able to see this film. You deserve to. And yes, it exists because we need for it to.
  4. Reviewed by: Peter Hartlaub
    Aug 2, 2012
    100
    "Searching" has emotional valleys and zeniths, and gasp-inducing turns, as old friends, fans and Rodriguez's grown daughters are interviewed.
  5. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Jul 26, 2012
    100
    A musical detective story, this enthralling documentary focuses on a little-known American musician whose haunting voice and poetic lyrics were essentially unknown in his own country, but had a massive impact across the globe.
  6. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Jul 25, 2012
    91
    Though unabashedly manipulative in its storytelling and structure, Searching For Sugar Man ultimately earns its happy ending and buzzy, crowd-pleasing populist appeal by alchemizing trembling inner-city pain into transcendent international beauty.
  7. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Jul 27, 2012
    90
    The truth-is-stranger-than-fiction saga has been a hit on the festival circuit, winning top documentary prizes at Sundance for Sweden's Bendjelloul. What sets Searching for Sugar Man apart, though, is the way in which the filmmaker preserves a sense of mystery in the telling.
  8. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Jul 27, 2012
    90
    Intentionally or not, Searching for Sugar Man catches all that - the fleeting moments of triumph and the years of endurance, the accumulation of family and the unquenched dreams - and doesn't presume to sew it all up for us.
  9. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Sep 20, 2012
    88
    Rodriguez' inner peace wins us over. He seems to have enjoyed recording music, fathering kids, cleaning houses, playing sold-out gigs and simply strumming a guitar in his kitchen. Searching for Sugar Man reminds us that a wise man knows lasting riches are never the result of record sales.
  10. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Aug 9, 2012
    88
    At 85 minutes, it's a tight, sharp achievement, yet one of the things I love about it is simple: It moves to a relaxed rhythm, in sync with its slightly otherworldly subject.
  11. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Jul 28, 2012
    83
    This is a real-life fairy tale with a remarkably happy ending.
  12. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Jul 26, 2012
    83
    For a quarter of a century -- unbeknownst to most Americans, including Rodriguez's original producers -- the singer landed a massive following in the country where his humanitarian outlook provided an escape for many disgruntled youth struggling under apartheid, elevating him to the stature of a "South African Elvis."
  13. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Aug 23, 2012
    80
    Malik Bendjelloul really knows how to spin a yarn.
  14. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Jul 26, 2012
    80
    Rodriguez's story is almost inconceivable in an obsessively magnified, heavily hyped Internet era. Which makes it all the more important to be shared. Listen, be moved, and pass it on.
  15. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Jul 26, 2012
    80
    A hugely appealing documentary about fans, faith and an enigmatic Age of Aquarius musician who burned bright and hopeful before disappearing.
  16. Reviewed by: Anna Smith
    Jul 23, 2012
    80
    Music fans will love this indie documentary. Try to avoid Googling him before you watch, though.
  17. Reviewed by: Matt Glasby
    Jul 23, 2012
    80
    The tale is better than the telling – and the soundtrack's better still – but music this monumental demands its moment. Now go and buy the album.
  18. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Aug 15, 2012
    78
    This documentary does boast some bowl-you-over reveals best experienced blind.
  19. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Sep 13, 2012
    75
    On one level, Searching for Sugar Man is a testament to how music - or painting or literature or any form of art - can take on a life far greater than its creator intended when it happens to connect with the right people at the right time.
  20. Reviewed by: Brad Wheeler
    Aug 2, 2012
    75
    A pleasing fix, Searching for Sugar Man is a lost-and-found film about pursuits – one of them abandoned, and one not.
  21. Reviewed by: Michelle Orange
    Jul 28, 2012
    75
    Sugar Man is most interesting when it touches on the conditions that combined to draw a cult hero out of some decent music and a generously enabled, imagination-firing mystique.
  22. Reviewed by: Sara Stewart
    Jul 27, 2012
    75
    Director Malik Bendjelloul expertly paces this strange and moving film, half mystery and half meditation on art, fame, the music biz and the definition of a meaningful life.
  23. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Jul 26, 2012
    75
    A fresh and unexpected documentary that plays like a nail-biting mystery and a ticket to ride the whirlwind where art and commerce do battle.
  24. Reviewed by: Mark Holcomb
    Jul 24, 2012
    70
    Fluid, open-ended documentaries that demand more of an audience than foregone assent or fleeting bouts of passive outrage are rare these days, which is what makes Malik Bendjelloul's Searching for Sugar Man such a gift.
  25. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    Jun 26, 2012
    70
    A winning musical detective story about a failed, forgotten early '70s rocker.
  26. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Jul 25, 2012
    67
    The yarn is too irresistible: We're fed plenty of sugar in this authorized fairy tale, but are left hungry for beef.
  27. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Aug 2, 2012
    63
    The movie is neatly structured, and Rodriguez turns out to be an interesting guy. He's worth getting to know, even if his music isn't.
  28. Reviewed by: Chris Cabin
    Jun 26, 2012
    63
    Despite crafting a consistently engaging film, the director doesn't present the full scope of Sixto Rodriguez's life.
  29. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Jul 26, 2012
    60
    This movie might itself make a modest contribution to rewriting the history of white South Africa.
  30. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Jul 24, 2012
    60
    So why is this songwriter, so articulate on vinyl, so vague and spacey in current-day interviews? Something happened here, deeper than an aborted quest for fame, and the documentary hasn't gotten to it.
  31. Reviewed by: Ray Greene
    Jun 26, 2012
    60
    Like "Anvil," this is a crowd-pleasing triumph of the spirit, framed around a story so bizarre it sounds like an urban legend.
  32. Reviewed by: Justin Lowe
    Jun 26, 2012
    50
    While all the interview subjects are enthusiastic, the overall lack of familiarity with Rodriquez's personal background and career collapse begin to drag.
User Score
8.7

Universal acclaim- based on 54 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 16
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 16
  3. Negative: 0 out of 16
  1. Sep 1, 2012
    10
    Love this documentary! I'd never heard of Rodriguez and was completely engrossed. A really fascinating story from beginning to end. Do not miss this one. Full Review »
  2. Jul 29, 2012
    9
    Do not read another word about this film; just go and see it now. You will not be disappointed. What an incredible and moving story. I loved every second. Full Review »
  3. Sep 27, 2013
    8
    A documentary that looks like something out of fiction, in which a sincere musician finds, after many years, his place in the world. A beautiful history. Full Review »