Amy movie full length review - Oh, Amy
Asif Kapadia's documentary, Amy, is often difficult to watch ? especially when you already know how it all ends. We, the audience, become transfixed as we watch Amy descend on a spiral of self- destruction ? much to the anguish of those who love and cherish her and her prodigious talent.
More than one of her close friends tell us years before she died that they feared it would all end very badly. Her close friend and manager parted company with her as he could no longer bear to watch this gifted young lady slowly killing herself.
It is strong stuff.
The documentary is jam-packed with archive footage of Amy, her family, her friends, her husband, managers and so much more ? most of which has never been previously seen. There's some wonderful stuff, including Amy as a young girl giving one of the most soulful renditions of 'Happy Birthday' you will ever hear.
She was just a happy, inoffensive 'ordinary' teenager with a massive love for music and a talent for singing.
The clips are interspersed with Amy singing live ? in her sitting room, in the recording studios, live on TV ? UK and USA ? in small smoky jazz /blues venues and at massive open-air auditoriums.
There is no narration ? it would have been superfluous ? and the film tracks Amy's life from her teenage years ? through her tempestuous life and brief career, to her final moments, lying on the floor of her home when her heart decided that enough was enough.
It doesn't surprise me that Amy's father, Mitch, is upset about the way the film depicts him. We all know how easy it is to misrepresent people's motives in film and distort the truth.
But the pedigree of Asif Kapadia, the film director, who also made the multi-award winning Senna, is of such a high calibre as to convince us that he would not go for cheap manipulation of a family member, just to get a few more bums on seats.
In any case, Mitch's role in Amy's downfall is quite minor. Clearly he was at fault when he ? along with many others who were 'managing' her at the time ? decided not send Amy into rehab when she clearly needed it. How was he to know that this decision might have led to her eventual demise, and who can blame him for putting her commercial interests first. He was looking after her money?.
It's easy for us to be wise after the event, and Mitch shouldn't feel so bad about it. No blame was attached to him by anyone in the documentary; we simply watched what happened and could draw our own conclusions.
Maybe he "doth protest-eth too much?"
Many observers, yours truly included, might well place far more of the blame at the door of her husband who was himself a serious drug addict. Arguably, he was the one who sent her on her early drug- induced binges when he dumped her. Amy's most famous album, 'Back to Black' is all about this break-up.
Later, after she became famous, he goes back to her and marries her and together they go on endless booze and drug filled benders. Then he goes to jail for nearly two years for assault and perverting the course of justice. That must have helped Amy's state of mind ? she was unquestionably besotted with him.
And of course, there was also the influence of her many 'hangers-on', including the pop singer, Pete Docherty who is also an addict and has been in jail for drug offences.
It was a revelation to see that before she was famous Amy was adamant that she never sought fame and told her friends and family ? time and time again ? that she wouldn't know how to cope with fame and attention.
Later, when she did become famous, she clearly hated all the public clamour for her. Those close to her should have taken note and made far greater efforts to protect her.
Poor Amy ended up in a goldfish bowl which was created by the world's paparazzi. The more she reacted to this unbearable scrutiny by taking drugs, getting drunk and generally misbehaving, the more the paparazzi loved it!
Amy was a very special and precocious talent ? a throwback to an earlier age, and she was simply not mentally equipped to be a superstar in this crazy, media-frenzied world of ours.
The footage of the nerve-racked recording of her duet with Tony Bennett ? where he had to behave like a father to get her through it ? and her ultimate fall from grace, when she appeared totally intoxicated at an open-air concert in Belgrade and collapsed, unable to sing, was almost too painful to watch.
But anyone who loves Amy's music, or even those who don't know much about her and her music, will find something in this film to take away with them.
If you love jazz and soulful songs with deeply emotional, poetic lyrics, I guarantee you will become an Amy Winehouse fan. I am quite sure that her voice and her music will transcend her all too brief life for generations to come.