OLD SCHOOL REVIEW: Amy
Asif Kapadia paints a tragic and raw picture of one of the best British soul singers, Amy Winehouse. Using both found footage and interviews, Kapadia helps show another side of the singer that others may not have seen, or believed that existed. He exposes that maybe it couldn’t always have gone downhill - that maybe there was hope that ended up being lost to stardom.
Amy starts off with Winehouse being 16 and living in Southgate. She seems to have already found that jazzy and soulfulness to her voice and gives a beautiful rendition of “Happy Birthday” to a friend of hers. Her friends and parents are introduced from then on, her father Mitch discusses about how he left Amy and her family when she was nine, as well as how he had been having an affair since she was younger than that. Her mother, Janice, is shown as being a pushover, or just unable to control her daughter, who’s begun to have a bit of a rebellious outlook at 16. Amy herself says to her mother in a clip of footage, “You should be tougher mum, you’re not strong enough to say stop.” The film touches on the eating disorder that Amy struggled with too. It’s almost as if that wasn’t a sad bit of foreshadowing of what was to come to Amy’s life.
From there, Kapadia takes us on a wild ride through more archive footage and interviews provided by friends and family to showcase Amy in a vulnerable and open way. We see Amy go through her first record deal, releasing her first album, buying her first flat and slowly becoming a hot sensation. It’s after she moves into her Camden apartment that family and friends, and now audiences, believe she begun to spiral downward. Her substance abuse is seen being heavily done with her ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil, whom was essentially the male version of Amy (minus the voice). It’s supposed that he’s the one that introduces her to the heavier drugs she would become dependent on.
Winehouse’s manager and friends noticed how badly she was slipping and tried to get her to go to rehab. However, Winehouse would only go if her father felt that she should, and sadly we all know how that line from Rehab goes, “… and if my Daddy thinks I’m fine.” Amy’s father, Mitch is perceived to have been a heavy influential character in her life but with sketchy motives. He’s seen doing an array of odd things like denying her need for rehab, and all together showing a blind eye to that situation. Along with that, while Amy is off on a “vacation” trying to recover from her substance abuse, her father joins but brings a camera crew along with him.
Amy is a documentary that makes you realize how deep the lyrics of Amy’s songs were. How beautiful of a soul a young woman had but sadly lost to the perils of the spotlight and the things that came with it - drugs and alcohol. Amy is a film where the ending is already known, but is still overwhelming when you realize this woman had such a huge talent and was so close to recovery. The ending is also open ended towards who’s to truly blame for never taking responsibility for Amy’s well-being. It’s a powerful piece that debuted at Cannes, and will make you appreciate the music that came from such an inspiring voice.
My Personal Rating: 9.5/10