Directed by Asif Kapadia
The tribulations of a struggling artists have been lamented in pop culture and on the silver screen time and time again. Life imitating art is a concept with which we're all familiar. Meshing these two together becomes an insightful and deeply sad portrait of a young talent spiraled into despair in Asif Kapadia's Amy, an intimate look at the rise and fall of Amy Winehouse.
The film opens with home footage of a young, teenage Winehouse serenading a friend for her birthday. Though she's partially goofing off, there's a hint of a sultry voice already blossoming. Fast-forward a few years later and she's in a rehearsal studio belting out modern jazz sounds years far beyond her maturity. From an early age, Winehouse displays sensibilities of a creative caught in between reality and loneliness. Struggles with depression made their mark early on, even though she had no clue why she felt distracted or different. A father who was absent for much of her younger years, and feelings of self-doubt and internal struggle to express herself, perhaps led her into a certain vulnerability that became her downfall early on. From a relationship that advanced far quicker than it should, Amy became the product of addiction and the fodder of tabloids worldwide.
Pieced together with very personal footage, director Kapadia creates a troubling image of Amy's surroundings and how a lack of true support could be to blame for the artist's ultimate demise. Early in the process of her becoming a star, her close loved ones suggested rehab, but her father, charmed by Amy, chose not to force her to go. This stands as an important moment that would shape the remainder of her life, as well as the basis for one of her biggest hit, "Rehab." In fact, one of the more eye-opening sequences laced throughout the film is the revelation of real life moments and how they shaped the lyrics to her songs.
Amy did have a strong backing of friends and family that cared, but she unfortunately allowed herself to distance them in favor of love and substance. Seeing the transition from a curious teen into a glassy-eyed haze of a human is harrowing and sad. Remembering the tabloid coverage and social conversation around her life creates a kind of guilt, now knowing that the external Amy Winehouse was far from the internal Amy Winehouse. Before she died, she revealed to her bodyguard that she would easily leave it all behind to be able to walk down the street without being bothered.
Runtime: 128 minutes