The story of Amy Winehouse in her own words, featuring unseen archival footage and unheard tracks.
‘Amy’ is a documentary biopic about the life of Amy Winehouse, following her from her late teenage years up until her tragic death at the age of 27. The film comes from Asif Kapadia, who helmed the outstanding ‘Senna’, and it’s an excellent and worthwhile follow up. ‘Amy’ primarily relies on an extraordinary wealth of footage to tell the story, combining home video tapes from her formative years with the media and concert footage from her career once she became successful. Similar to ‘Senna’, Kapadia utilises voiceover from the key players in her life to compliment the footage on the screen, with the timeline running in chronological order to chart her rise to success and ultimately her tragic fall. For the record, I wasn’t a massive fan of Amy Winehouse’s music (although I can of course recognise how good her voice was), but that doesn’t detract from the viewing experience here. This is an extremely powerful and moving documentary.
The film is not complimentary about many of those surrounding Amy, and it’s been criticised by some of those closest to her as being inaccurate. It’s hard to understand this point of view as Kapadia has carefully constructed a story which is almost entirely told through the direct voiceover of those closest to her, and there are no obvious signs of journalistic privilege being used to manipulate the tale. Many people do come off badly through this documentary, namely her father and her ex-husband, but this feels entirely warranted and a true reflection of events that happened. ‘Amy’ is never anything other than brutally raw, whether it’s in the way Kapadia relates her lyrics directly to specific experiences, or in the way her demise and hounding by the press is viscerally displayed. In her own words, Winehouse never wanted to be famous, she just wanted to sing. In all stages of her life, you never felt that Amy was driving her own story and this was emphasised as she became more successful and more people became involved in protecting and driving her ‘brand’, regardless of the detriment to her health.
A tragic story of a talented singer, ‘Amy’ is another excellent documentary from Asif Kapadia that provides a valuable insight into the young girl behind the media portrayal.
Directed By: Asif Kapadia
Starring: Amy Winehouse