“Amy” Review

27 September, 2016

Director: Asif Kapadia
Producers: James Gay-Rees, Paul Bell, George Pank
Starring: Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson 

Synopsis: A tender account of one of the most tormented singer-songwriters of the 21st century, Amy tells the life story of eclectic vocalist Amy Winehouse who tussled with the reality of fame and addiction before her death from alcohol poisoning at the age of 27.

Amy Review:

Expertly assembled out of raw footage filmed and narrated by those closest to her, “Amy” is a beautiful and genuinely respectful remembrance piece that warrants a thorough mention in the world of documentary filmmaking. Director Asif Kapadia presents a down-to-earth account of Winehouse while attempting to provide viewers with an intimate portrait of a tormented artist. As the film unravels, the repugnant relationship between misery and talent comes to light as the singer succumbs to addiction whilst unable to outrun the endless flash of paparazzi cameras.

Outside of the melancholic genius of her music, Winehouse gradually became a symbol of media barbarity as her depression-fuelled binges left her downtrodden and ridiculed by the public. She mutated from a radiant Jewish beauty to the crack whore of fame and fortune in less than a decade and her fans and critics watched in horror as it all unfolded. While everyone clicked on catchy headlines and exchanged money for cheap magazines they contributed to the crippling and destructive experience of the mainstream artist. We, as consumers, were partly responsible for fuelling Winehouse’s addictions while producers, family members, and publicists reaped the benefits of her talent. It wasn’t long before a shell of a person replaced a soul icon as Winehouse shrivelled into something unrecognisable, something ugly and broken.

In many ways, the exploitation of Amy Winehouse’s image was only extended after her premature death in the summer of 2011. While music channels and radio stations endlessly looped her minuscule back-catalogue of songs with a feigned sense of compassion, the singer who had been the laughing stock of the tabloids for years rose like a phoenix from the ashes. Winehouse was heralded as the Princess Diana of the music industry and yet, when all was said and done, she had been idolised by a generation who had lapped up the media’s depiction of a wasted artist who hadn’t given them enough albums or performed adequately at the concerts they paid for.

“Amy” is a documentary about fragility, a film with the courage to suggest that Winehouse wasn’t to blame for being unable to shield her weaknesses and that she was perhaps too vulnerable to become a celebrity. The movie shows how an artist can open their arms to the world only to have it spit back in their face as Kapadia uses the downfall of a free-spirited Jazz enthusiast to highlight the grotesqueness of music industry mayhem. In her last filmed performance Amy Winehouse, one of the most talented musicians of our era, was booed by a crowd of 20,000 people. Kapadia doesn’t simply present this moment, he makes us live it, he contextualises and frames this moment as an agonising snapshot in a tale of relentless suffering and destruction in the public eye.



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