Amy: Film Review

Amy received almost universal praise when it debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May so I had high hopes and it totally excelled them. This is an absolutely heart-breaking and moving tale of Amy Winehouse’s self-destruction in the face of success. Bringing tissues is a must.

Senna documentary filmmaker Asif Kapadia works his magic here by using mostly unseen home video footage to capture the tragic singer from a bubbly 14 year old to her untimely demise in 2011, aged 27. There is no narration – Kapadia simply lets the images, footage, minimal interviews, her songs and voiceovers from her closest friends paint the painful picture.

I mostly know Winehouse from the paparazzi pictures of her looking drug-ravaged and awful, and from her destructive marriage to Blake Fielder-Civil, so to get away from that and learn who she was in private and before the fame was incredibly interesting. It also made me feel a bit guilty that I bought into the tabloid culture that contributed to her declining mental state.

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A vast array of people were interviewed, mostly just as voiceovers, and I found the most interesting and powerful to be from her former manager Nick Shymansky, her school friends Juliette Ashby and Lauren Gilbert, and Andrew Morris, the security guard who found her dead. None of these people wanted anything to do with the project in the beginning, and it just wouldn’t have worked without them. Hearing her friends get upset over Amy’s addiction brought me to tears. Home video footage of her goofing around with her friends is simply haunting when you know how the story ends.

The film remains objective as possible but there are a few people that come off badly – especially her dad Mitch and ex-husband Blake. It was interesting to hear their side of the story but it also made you angry that they didn’t help her more.

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The documentary moves in chronological order and charts her gradual deterioration and uses her song lyrics to explain where she is mentally. It was equally a story of success and of demise. I learned new things, such as the context to song lyrics, her friendship with Mos Def, her struggles with alcoholism, depression and bulimia, which all took place before her marriage to Blake.  I also liked the use of TV appearances in contrast with her private hell, as it made it all the more poignant, especially her Grammys win when she was getting sober.

Winehouse was mocked in her final years despite her success, but here she comes off so well because you see who she really was, which is something none of us has really known before. I don’t think you have to be her fan to watch this – it is a must-see. I absolutely bawled my eyes out. It is just so moving and beautifully told.

Released in cinemas on Friday 3rd July

Trackbacks

  1. […] documentary. This film focuses both on her success and her demise and tissues will be required. Check my review here. Released: […]

  2. […] I’m not a massive documentary watcher (something I have to change) and although I loved Amy Winehouse’s music, I wasn’t a massive fan of her as a person so I didn’t expect this to affect me as much as it did. I have not cried that much in the cinema for a long time. Horrific, blubbering tears. It is just a tragic tale of how a young girl with dreams of being a jazz/soul singer eventually becomes a spiralling drug addict due to pressures of fame and media attention. Absolutely haunting. Review. […]

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