Review: Amy

The 2015 documentary detailing the life and death of Soul singer, Amy Winehouse.

Assumedly it will be fans of Amy Winehouse that will be first in line for the new documentary film that intimately details the singer’s troubled life and untimely death. For this reviewer, there was a mild curiosity to hopefully peek beyond the Winehouse persona endlessly peddled by suspect tabloid media that generally focused upon the more destructive elements of her lifestyle. The images that stuck were damning – bloodied, smudged, gaunt and unkempt – they necessarily appear in Asif Kapadia’s Amy, yet are respectfully contextualised within the director’s portrayal of the people and circumstances around Winehouse. Made with the consent of Winehouse’s family (who have since objected to the film), appearing along with her closest friends, managers, bodyguards and on–again–off–again ex–husband Blake Fielder–Civil, Kapadia (Senna) pieces together a compelling and moving portrait of the exceptionally talented songstress. Home video footage, voice mail messages, various recordings of performances and interviews, and audio commentary from the aforementioned participants offer a candid insight into Winehouse’s private self. Revealed is someone not just of incredible voice, with a genuine gift for lyrics and phrasing (“She was the truest jazz singer I ever heard,” comments Tony Bennett), but also someone witty and disarmingly unguarded, yet vulnerable to the influences and pressures that accompany sudden fame. To say that Winehouse was ill equipped to deal with the international stardom following the release of her multi award winning Back to Black is to state the obvious; more concerning in Kapadia’s film is how those around the doomed chanteuse fail to protect her. Of these, it is the charmless Fielder–Civil and Winehouse’s father, Mitch, who come off as being most questionably motivated. The sad truth that confronts the audience of Amy, and lingers, is that it wasn’t people to blame for the tragic demise and death of this genuinely gifted woman, it was a system, and perhaps this world, that she just wasn’t cut out for.

Amy opens on Thursday, July 2.  Rated MA

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