Amy is a brilliantly crafted together piece that tells the heartbreaking story of the incredibly talented six-time Grammy award winner, Amy Winehouse. The film is told in the stark details of her own words using archival footage and personal accounts from the people who were closest to her during that time.
Amy, a young ingenue with an amazingly unique voice, is able to capture the attention record executives, who immediately recognizes her as a once in a life time talent. We see her life chronicled through the accounts of two of her oldest friends (Juliette Ashby and Lauren Gilbert), as well as her close personal friendship with her first manager, Nick Shymansky, as she starts on her path to eventual stardom. We also get a keen look into her life as a child and her demons through interviews her mother, Janis, and father, Mitch, who are contrite in their acknowledgement of where they might have failed Amy along the way. All of the interviews have a sheer honesty to them that transports the audience into the middle of a life in chaos, and a girl who was not prepared for the media attention and fame she would receive.
BAFTA Award-winning director Asif Kapadia (SENNA), shines an unfiltered light on the sensationalism of the media at the time, while letting the audience relate to the person and the pure musician behind the big hair and the thick eyeliner. As a fan of Amy Winehouse, hearing unreleased tracks, seeing footage from old performances and studio time, I was mesmerized all over again by the unique presence of the singer/songwriter’s voice and words. Her soulful new age jazz style ushered in a renaissance of sound that you can see still influences artists of today in the likes of Hozier and Sam Smith. Seeing her actual process revealed on the screen made my heart bleed for her as we are clearly shown a soul in pain, crying out for help the only way she knows how to, through her music.
Even if you aren’t a fan of Amy Winehouse and her music, Kapadia expertly weaves a tragic tale of self-destruction that is profoundly moving and powerful. Giving audiences the time to reflect on the choices we make in life, Kapadia leaves us with a cautionary message on how quickly loved ones who suffer from addiction can be taken from us, how important it is to recognize signs early, and how futile our efforts are when they are not willing to help themselves in their recovery.
Amy is in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on July 3. It opens nationwide on July 10.