Amy, the documentary about the too-short life of singer Amy Winehouse, was directed by Asif Kapadia. The film was created from archival clips to tell the story of the talented but troubled Winehouse with Winehouse herself as the focus.
Much of the footage was amateur, cell-phone video of Amy at various stages in her life. As she became better known, there is more professionally done footage of her taken at concerts and interviews.
The film encompases her life from her days as a happy teen through her rise to stardom and her death from alcohol poisoning at the age of 27.
There are so many tragic things in Amy Winehouse’s story. Her parents didn’t protect her from life. Her father was only around after she became a marketable commodity. Her husband was an addict willing to drag her down with him. She was bulimic, a drug user, and an abuser of alcohol. Her true friends were unable to save her from all the forces working against her.
One of the biggest problems she had to face was fame. She was poorly equipped to deal with fame and didn’t have the right support in learning how to handle it. The people who should have helped her deal with her demons often didn’t. If she’d had the help and support she needed, she might have made it through the bad patches, might have had a long career like Tony Bennett, who she sang with and who recognized her talent.
Watch the finished duet with Tony Bennett. In Amy you see the parts of the recording session that weren’t in the polished end product. In the film you see how nervous she was, how awed by her idol Tony Bennett.
Most tragic of all, she was an incredible talent – a true jazz genius with a unique voice and message. That gift is lost forever. She made only two albums: Back To Black and Frank. Only two albums – yet enough to win her 5 Grammy Awards and several European awards.
Although some of the cell-phone video was a bit wobbly and hard to watch, there were no talking heads in the film. Interviews were strictly done as voice-overs with Amy’s music and life always in front of the viewer. That changed the way the documentary felt. It seemed truly to be an intimate look at Amy herself, rather than a string of talk from people who knew her. I don’t know how accurate a portrayal the film is, but her loss was tragic and that’s a fact.
I watched the film on Amazon Video, where you can also get the Amy: Official Motion Picture Soundtrack. The soundtrack contains some previously unheard tracks.
The film made me both sad and angry. If you’ve seen it, please share your reactions.