A documentary on the life of Amy Winehouse, the immensely talented yet doomed songstress. We see her from her teen years, where she already showed her singing abilities, to her finding success and then her downward spiral into alcoholism and drugs.Written by
First documentary distributed by A24 to be nominated for an Oscar. See more »
Amy performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 2004. At the time the festival was still in The Hague. (And not -yet- in Rotterdam, as the movie states.) She performed at one of the stages in the basement. See more »
The cover story of this week's edition of music magazine NME is: 'Who killed Amy?' It would have been a perfect title for this superb documentary. I went to see it, hoping it would answer two questions. One: could Amy Winehouse's death have been prevented in any way? Two: if so, by whom? The film provides crystal clear answers to both questions. One: no, it probably couldn't have been prevented - at best it could have been postponed. Two: several members of her entourage have probably contributed to her downward spiral. Her father, who wasn't there when he should be and was there when he shouldn't. Her husband, who encouraged her drugs abuse and seems to be an utterly despicable person. And the press, who relentlessly haunted her and enjoyed every misstep in her life. But the documentary also makes one thing very clear: in the end there's only one person responsible for Amy Winehouse's death: Amy Winehouse.
Apart from providing a stunning insight in Winehouse's short life and career, 'Amy' is also a great movie from a cinematographic perspective. The unique feature is that it consists almost entirely of existing footage. It's absolutely incredible what the film makers (with the help of the Winehouse family) have unearthed. Lots of home videos, from her youth as well as from her later life, interviews, recording sessions, telephone conversations, even voice mail messages. Sometimes it almost feels uncomfortable to view images, clearly made for personal use, on a giant screen. But they are extremely revealing. There were numerous moments when I felt like saying: wow! The very first moments of the film are almost worth the ticket price. We see an amateur home video of a birthday party: 14 year old girls giggling and fooling around, until suddenly one of them starts singing 'Happy Birthday' with a voice and technique that seem to belong to Sarah Vaughan or Ella Fitzgerald. We also see Winehouse commenting after her first single has sold 800 copies, we see a hilarious scene during a holiday in Spain, but we also see her waving a bag of marijuana in front of the camera, we see her arguing with her father, visiting her incarcerated husband, and in one haunting scene, lying on the floor in what seems a drunken stupor.
'Amy' tells an extremely sad story. It's told in all honesty: it shows how incredibly talented Winehouse was, and how dedicated to her music, but also how insecure and self-destructive. When one of her childhood friends tells how she felt when, in the end, Winehouse wasn't her old self anymore, she almost starts sobbing in the microphone. I have no doubt each and every one in the cinema theatre felt the same way after seeing this film.
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