In the fickle music business, raw talent seldom guarantees success or longevity.
For every Adele, there is a Jedward or Cheeky Girls, whose novelty value far exceeds their musicality. In the early 1970s, rocker Rodriguez released two critically feted albums, Cold Fact and Coming From Reality, that failed to spark the interest of the American record-buying public.
With his star in rapid descent, Rodriguez continued to gig and became a footnote in music legend when he tragically committed self-immolation on stage, unaware that his records would garner a fervent fan base on the other side of the world, speaking volumes to the people of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa who were contending with segregation, discrimination and economic hardship.
Malik Bendjelloul’s terrific documentary follows two music fans as they rake through the ashes of their idol’s past in search of the man behind the façade. Archive footage is seamlessly interwoven with interviews of the people who claimed to know the real Rodriguez, building to a glorious and unexpected final flourish that makes your heart sing.
Released: July 26 (UK, selected cinemas), 86 mins