Howdy ladies and gents, time for a film review and today I’m catching up on one of the many films I missed in the cinema this year starting with Amy. I missed this in the cinema because of a lack of time while working and its limited release around my area, and I had heard so many great and emotional reviews from critics and people I knew who saw this documentary, but I wasn’t sure if it would evoke the same emotional response with myself, but I watched it yesterday before I went to work and it was definitely something worth watching and I’ll explain why in this review.
The premise is described as the following:
“The story of Amy Winehouse in her own words, featuring unseen archival footage and unheard tracks.”
There is so much I could say about this film, but I shall try to condense my thoughts as much as possible. In short, this documentary is awesome. And that should come as no surprise considering the director is Asif Kapadia, the man who crafted the brilliant Senna back in 2010 (2011 for its UK release). There are many comparisons that I found to Senna in terms of:
- It was very informative and gave a more detailed and personal account of the subject matter than anything documented before.
- The film had no standard face-to-camera interviews and instead were verbal only over the footage on-screen.
- Most of the visual footage was archive-based with certain shots of modern-day locations mixed in.
- There was an emotional resonance that could not be ignored.
Kapadia just knew how to craft a story, using the right video clips intercut with certain interviews or sound effects or photos with dramatic playing with it, the man knew exactly the kind of response he wanted to get out of the audience. He wanted you to feel, not only that but to understand that the events in Amy Wineshouse’s life were not doom and gloom, but also beautiful and yet tragic.
This film shows Amy’s life from beginning to end and while there were certain details that were touched on but never fully detailed (like the involvement of people like Russell Brand and Pete Doherty), there were plenty of people in Amy’s life to provide certain facts and tidbits from whether it be producers like Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi, ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, Mos Def, her parents Mitchell and Janis, her bodyguard Andrew Morris, or friends Juliette Ashby, Lauren Gilbert and Nick Shymanksy, along with a list of many other famous and close associates. I never knew her connections were so wide and that she had the love and respect of so many people. Amy really was such a great talent, she was beautiful, quite funny, and behind all the music, fame and media she was just a regular, down-to-earth kind of girl and it truly broke my heart to see such an amazing person get mixed up with the wrong kind of people, lose herself in the world of alcohol and drugs, and get swallowed by the media. I never knew so many of the key events in life, good or bad, took place over such a short space of time, that specific period between 2004 and 2007 was such a successful, turbulent and dangerous point in time period. It was interesting to hear her say in an interview that she didn’t think she’d be famous and that she’d go mad from fame, it unfortunately sounded like foreshadowing her future. I remember hearing about her in the news every so often once when the drugs and alcohol kicked in, but I never knew how much of a media frenzy she was stuck in with constant swarms of paparazzi, verbal jams from famous figures in the media and never having the opportunity to give her side of events because of her father and constant state of struggle with substance abuse. While not on the same scale or circumstances, Amy’s troubled life reminded me of the chaotic times of Michael Jackson during his difficult time with media attacks.
Now Amy’s life was anything but pretty, but once she became famous things got ugly and to see/hear about her getting so skinny and frail, not being to perform to the best of her abilities, going in and out of rehab, having interventions from her friends, getting into drugs and stuff because of her husband Blake, and the fact that her parents, especially father Mitchell did nothing and practically forced her to continue her music-based commitments was ridiculous and hard to watch. Now not all blame was on her friends and family, she needed to help herself frist and foremost, though, you could see at least two or three points when someone could have intervened and things could have turned out differently for sure. I mainly couldn’t stand her then-husband Blake, he was dodgy from the beginning and his world of drinking and drugs was the start of the dark days, also blinded by love those two ended up messing each other up. But Mitchell also bugged me too. From the he was introduced he sounded like an asshole, and the information that followed about him having an affair, not being around for his family and eventually leaving Amy’s life, he felt like the catalyst for both Amy’s positive and negative attributes and it continued into her music career as well. And the fact that he only came back into her life while she was famous, did nothing to help his daughter in relation to the over abundance of live shows and drug use is nothing short of disgusting.
Beyond that I loved seeing Amy’s early years, writing music, doing her smaller live shows and just showing off her gorgeous vocals. This woman was a great lyricist and learning about how dedicated she was to music, whether it was admiring people who came before her or making sure she was creating music that she was satisfied with made me love her. I’ve never been her biggest fan, but I would never deny her talent and hearing “In My Bed” was awesome because it’s one of my favourite songs. And hearing some of her other famous songs with the significance behind them being revealed during the film, I had a greater understanding and respect for them.
In the end Amy was a beautiful and heartbreaking look at such an amazing woman who was corrupted and consumed by those around her and couldn’t be saved. While some may not change their minds about the former singer, I have such a newfound level of respect for her when it comes to her music, creativity and normal/humourous persona when the media weren’t involved. This film was well-directed, very informative and hit all the right emotional notes and I couldn’t recommend it more.
So did you see Amy and if so what did you think of it? Be sure to comment below and I’ll see ya on the next review, laters! :D