Movie Review: “Amy” – Back to the Beginning

Written by Samah Ali July 27, 2015

“This is someone who’s trying to disappear.”

Amy Winehouse is known for her incredible voice and strange antics. Drugs and addition burned bridges in the music industry and ruined her career before it really began. Same old story about a tortured soul and their tumultuous relationship in the limelight, but something is different about “Amy”. The documentary shows the woman behind the voice through archival footage and interviews and her ultimate demise after her quick rise to fame.

Asif Kapadia presents an up close look at the life of Amy Winehouse, before and after her success. With personal testimonials from friends, family, and producers along with footage from her performances, “Amy” does not hold back. It is raw, blunt, and unapologetic. Kapadia’s doc is hard to swallow but ultimately captures a true, authentic side of Winehouse that the public has never seen.

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“Amy” begins with early footage of Winehouse as a teenager with her friends, before the tours and her career, singing happy birthday to her friend – a simple beginning to a thoughtful documentary. Using interview recordings of Winehouse, Kapadia weaves in her opinions on her songs and early life when her career first began. Managed and touring with her friends from home, Winehouse somehow made her way to the top and became a common name in the industry.

Foreign to the stage, the young artist said in old video footage that fame would drive her mad, a gloomy statement reaffirming the known ending of the documentary.

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As Winehouse grows on the screen, taking on her famous winged eyeliner and hair, her private life gives context to her evocative lyrics. Projected on screen, songs like “Stronger Than Me” and “What Is It About Men” earn greater meanings and show how men influenced her life, especially her relationship with Blake Fielder. On and off boyfriend turned husband, the two were toxic to each other and fueled their drug additions. From the beginning to end, it’s painful to watch Winehouse drop weight and rely on drugs to make it through a night, eventually costing her life.

“Jules, this is so boring without drugs.”

“Amy” wasn’t just a glorification of her career and private life rather an exposé of her troubled ways. The interviews from Winehouse and her friends played over a montage of concert footage and photoshoots showed her progressing frail body and sinking skin as a result to her abuse. It was moving and frank while showing the blackness that plagued her life.

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For Winehouse fans, this documentary is more informative then expected. It changes the meaning of several songs while also showing various producers and artists who worked Winehouse, her personal favourite and last being Tony Bennett. With a beautiful scene capturing Winehouse’s sweep at the 2008 Grammy Awards, Kapadia showed her quick fall from the top as she plummeted in and out of rehab, a divorce, and failed performances after attempting to recover. It was rough and unbearable, but the doc captivates all the same.

“Amy” is easily one of the best documentaries of the year. It’s unconventional and demands attention, both for her music and her unstable career. Her friends’ words bring personal value while her lyrics explain her emotions on and off drugs. “Amy” is spectacular and should be accompanied with your next listen to her albums.

Rating: 8.5/10

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About Samah Ali

Samah Ali

With a deep admiration for film, television, and music, Samah spends most of her free time expressing and sharing her love for the arts. Studying Creative Writing at Western University, she enjoys writing about film & music and shapes her passions with the latest movie or album available.

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