Amy, the controversial new documentary about the life of iconic singer songwriter Amy Winehouse is screening at the Garden City Cinema now and I urge you to go see it.
Amy Winehouse was a unique talent, her style of singing, inspired by the jazz greats and her honest and autobiographical lyrics made her stand out and gave her an edge in a time when the mainstream music scene was tired and bland.
Director Asif Kapadia uses audio recordings of phone messages and interviews with Winehouse along with audio from friends and family which provides the narration and it makes for an intimate film. Amy is full of unseen footage of Winehouse, from home movies as a young teen, to videos of her of the road early in her career. Editing this film took three years to complete, perhaps this is why it feels so complete, you come away feeling like you got to know her a lot better. Suddenly a lot of her choices start to make a bizarre sort of sense.
The bulk of the documentary focuses on Winehouse as an artist, her desire to make music. At one point as she is being interviewed and is asked about success. To her, success was being able to make music for a living. To be able to spend her days in the studio doing what she loved.
Amy shows Winehouse to be naturally funny and had charisma that shines through the screen and my god, what a voice. Sure there were gigs she did where she was too intoxicated to give a decent performance and those are some of the hardest scenes to watch because when she was on form she was transcendent. Unconcerned with fame and reputation Winehouse was also vulnerable. The affair her father had when she was growing up and the subsequent divorce of her parents clearly had a big impact on her. A pushover of a mother and a mostly absent father led to her being perscribed antidepressants as a teen. “I felt Amy was over it pretty quick,” her father says but this just highlights how out of touch or willfully blind he was, and yet his daughter adored him.
Her father Mitch has spoken out against the documentary claiming he is misrepresented in the film but if you’re a fan of Winehouse and have followed her career you’ll know just how true the film rings. Her father was riding her coattails and famously told Amy she didn’t have to go to rehab if she didn’t want to. Immortalised in the lyrics to her hit song Rehab “I ain’t got the time and if my Daddy thinks I’m fine, they tried to make me go to rehab and I said no,no,no”
We all know about her life being tragically cut short due to the toll drugs, bulimia and alcohol took on her body but to those not already in the know, the film also highlights the lack of care she received from the people around her and the part the media played in hounding Winehouse, pushing her further down the spiral.
She tried to get clean, entering various rehab clinics but sadly none of them would stick, her codependant relationship with the charmless and toxic Blake Fielder Civil had turned them into a modern day Sid and Nancy.
Amy is not an easy watch at times but this is the story of a woman struggling with addiction and so there’s a duty to show the ugly reality of it, the film doesn’t wallow in her darkest days but doesn’t shy away from them either.
Amy’s story is tragic and is far from unique but the film unfolds in such a way that you can’t help but be taken in and throughout it all, her talent is centre stage. I loved that during her songs handwritten lyrics appear on the screen, if you’d never paid much attention to what she was singing before, you will now and it will blow you away at how she could find just the right way to say what was in her heart.
Even if you’re not a fan of Amy Winehouse, I would recommend watching Amy, it’s a fascinating look at her life and you never know, it may make you a fan!
Book your tickets to see Amy at the Garden City Cinema click here.