I knew almost nothing about this film but a few people I know started recommending it. I finally caught up with it and I'm so glad I did. The raves were certainly warranted. This is a terrific documentary about an singer/songwriter from the late '60's who was basically unknown in the United States but became bigger than Elvis in South Africa.
The singer is Rodriguez, an American Mexican who lived in the Detroit area and released two albums that never found an audience in the United States. But as legend goes, when an American girl traveled to Capetown to visit her boyfriend, she brought a tape of "Cold Fact" with her and his music then spread like wildfire through the country. The anti-establishment and freewheeling lyrics made an powerful impact on the teens struggling through the Apartheid era of the time.
The film follows a South African music store owner and a journalist as they both try, independently and then together, to find out whatever became of Rodriguez. Interviews of people that knew Rodriguez are sprinkled throughout the film as the two men pursue answers to the fate of the talented musician. It is at once a fascinating mystery as well as a testament to the power and beauty of music. Thanks to the film, a new generation of music lovers are discovering Rodriguez's songs and helping to spread the word about a musician who, as it turned out, was a zero in the U.S. but a hero in South Africa (to borrow a line from the film).
Filled with great music, drama, humor and a little magic, this documentary is one of the best films of the year.