Thanks to the EMP Museum, Nic and I had the chance to see the new documentary, AMY. Directed by Asif Kapadia, the film allows Amy Winehouse, in her own words, to tell her story of unwanted fame and ultimately poisonous love. Best known to the U.S. audience for top 40 hit "Rehab", her immense talent was quickly glossed over in favor of punchlines from late-night hosts. If you haven't seen a trailer for the film (Out Now) you can watch it below.
The film begins by showing interviews and clips from home videos with her family and friends. Early in the film you learn about the rocky relationship between Amy and her father, Mitch Winehouse. Since the movie's announcement, Mitch has publicly distanced himself from the film, claiming it was edited to portray him in a negative way. I will say one thing, from this film, there are obvious moments of poor taste on his end. The problem for Mr. Winehouse is in the lack of opinionated editing from Kapadia. The documentary never interjects, it merely shows interactions between Amy and her father. And in those glimpses, there is no question that Mitch Winehouse had ample opportunity to help his daughter.
The relationship with her father gave Amy a taste for rebellion at an early age. She experimented with drugs while skipping school to hang out with her boyfriends. Amy opened up to her mother about her bulimia at 15 years-old and was taking medication for depression for most of her life. While you're watching her life progress on screen, you can't help but root for her despite knowing how the story will end. For every clip of Amy high or at rock bottom, there is a video of her acting like any other girl from the UK -- biting interviewers with her wit and leaving hilarious drunken voicemails to her manager.
Every great film has an antagonist and this film may have one of the greatest villains of all time, Blake Fielder-Civil. Amy's ex-husband and one of her deadliest addictions, the two met and started dating despite him already having a girlfriend. Their love was one of her biggest inspirations and ties a large portion of the movie together seamlessly. Their on again, off again relationship drove Amy to write many of her most popular songs. He claims that while he did introduce Amy to drugs, he was not to blame for the singer's death and has even stated that he can't get a job because of the "public's perception of him."
I was a fan of Amy's music but knew very little about her as a person, so I was really excited to see this film. It is through the eye's and tales of those closest to Amy that you discover something unexpected. You discover that Amy Winehouse was merely a young woman, trying to make music. She wasn't writing songs to be marketable or to impress the entire world. She believed in her sound and would never write a song she didn't believe in.
As each minute passes, your heart rises in your chest as you cheer for the underdog. Despite seeing Titanic at least 20 times, a part of me always hopes that, this time, the ship will miss the iceberg leaving Rose and Jack to live happily ever after. When watching AMY, you see the iceberg coming but tell yourself that you'll never let go. I hope that her story can teach the world about drug addiction, eating disorders, depression and how love and acceptance can change the end of any story.
A legend died when we lost Amy in 2011. An entirely unique voice in soul music that Tony Bennett compares to Ella Fitzgerald. In the film, Bennett leaves the audience with this piece of wisdom.