Amy (2015)


I was eager to watch Amy, the 2015 documentary film portraying the rise and fall of Amy Winehouse, but I had no idea just how much it would get in my head. I watched it on Sunday and it’s still playing on my mind five days later.

The film, directed by Asif Kapadia, is totally made up from archive footage and I’ll be honest, when it started I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy the format. There is no narrator or host and I like to be very sure about what I’m watching. But within minutes I was hooked (and slightly in love). There are interviews with friends and family played over the video material, which does give a type of narrative and direction.

‘Amy’ – documentary review

amy

I’d say I was mainly indifferent to Amy before her death. I certainly didn’t dislike her music but neither did I buy it. Like a lot of people I just thought of her as a (talented) singer with a beehive, who looked like a laugh but was also a mess.

Aside from the documentary being shocking what I took from it was just how talented and basically amazing she was. It made me feel genuinely sad that I’d not followed her music more before she died.

I certainly never realised what a gifted artist and musician she was, from playing the guitar to writing her own songs – which are all biographical and full of heart and soul. She was into jazz whilst growing up and her earlier music (before Mark Ronson stuck his trumpet in) was so bluesy and gorgeous. I’m talking Ella Fitzgerald style and watching her sing at eighteen years old, it was hard to believe she would be dead within the decade.

Of course the crazy times are pretty crazy and without sounding heartless, make for some compelling viewing. Amy was a drug addict, an alcoholic and she suffered from bulimia. She was a depressive and often violent and she clearly had, I’m not saying a bad childhood, but not the best either.

Her father Mitch actually opposed the release of Amy saying he was ‘portrayed in a bad way’ but interestingly no opinions are ever expressed and considering the entire film is made from archive footage, the only person who could be accused of portraying him badly would be himself. 

But most people have a cross to bear. And how many of us could blame our parents? Amy’s mum and dad are still somewhat of a mystery but they can’t take the entire blame for her downfall. You could tell she was always going to be a a loose cannon. In the early footage she was feisty (and very funny) and a fan of smoking weed and getting drunk. I think some people just have ‘it’ in them and fame just exacerbates it. For Amy it was made even harder because the press would not leave her alone, even at most unwell and vulnerable. 

But for every shock clip containing bloody feet (where she had injected heroin into her toes) missing teeth or bizarre behaviour – there are ten more that define her beauty, talent and spark.

I’m not even sure why exactly, but Amy had such an effect on me. I felt like she was my friend or could have been my friend. Her kindness, wit and insecurity was so evident and I guess the bottom line is I just really liked her. 

amyw

Amy is premiering tonight on Channel 4 at 9pm.

Watch it, Tivo it or record it onto VHS tape (I honestly have a friend who still does that) but do not miss it. 

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About emmakwall

Films, books, soundtracks, good humour
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62 Responses to Amy (2015)

  1. Mel says:

    Best thing I’ve read in a long time.

  2. You seriously know someone who still uses a VCR as a recorder? I’m not sure I could even remember how to do that! Plus, I think my VCR is in storage… 🙂

  3. Natasha says:

    Great review Emma! Sounds thought-provoking and really good.

  4. alexraphael says:

    I loved Senna and I’ve heard nothing but good things about Amy.

  5. What a great review! I am probably in a similar boat with you, I have always been a little ambivalent towards Amy Winehouse, but I’ve heard so many good things about this documentary!

    • emmakwall says:

      Thanks so much Jessica!!! 🙂

      It’s well worth watching and even if you’re not a super fan, as it’s very interesting for anyone really. I guarantee you’d enjoy it 🙂

  6. Haylee says:

    I’m glad you said it had such an effect on you as it did me too. I was a fan of her voice and owned her music but I wasn’t a super fan and didn’t really know much about her when she died, other than how she was portrayed in the press.
    This film changed that and it just made me feel so, so sorry for her. Some events were to blame that led her down a tragic path but as you say, some people are more susceptible to to their demons.
    I’d watched it fairly soon after watching the Kurt Cobain documentary and I honestly felt bereft after both.
    Amazing film though, worthy of the BAFTA nomination it’s received. And great review 🙂

    • emmakwall says:

      Thanks Haylee 🙂 thanks for reading. I’m so glad you felt the same too, I felt like I was in a bit of an ‘Amy bubble’ for a few days there. The weird thing is, I swear I heard her songs more or saw images of her around all the time. Must have just been synchronicity 🙂

      I felt so sorry for her too, she was so nice as well. I know she was mouthy and a bit violent but I just think you could tell she had a good heart.

      I must watch that Kurt Cobain doc, have heard good things! Did you review it at all?

      • Haylee says:

        Didn’t review it, don’t feel I would have given it justice, especially as I was never a fan. But perhaps that’s why I found it so interesting – viewing from a completely unbiased position 🙂

  7. vinnieh says:

    Excellent review, I’m interested in seeing this film. It was so sad when she died, so much talent and yet so troubled of soul.

  8. beetleypete says:

    Good to hear your thoughts, Em. I got this on DVD for Christmas, so was surprised to see it on TV tonight already. I might watch the DVD rather than the TV though, as the adverts will break it up. Unlike you, I was a huge fan of Amy Winehouse from the first time I heard and saw her. I have written a fair bit about her and her music on my blog. Also, living in Camden Town, close to where she lived and hung out, we often saw her out in the streets, so sadly also watched the downward spiral happening.
    Great stuff!
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    • emmakwall says:

      Have you watched it yet Pete? I think it’s just because it was a Film4 production and a doc that they showed it so early on TV but DEFINITELY one to have on DVD in any case.

      I’ll have to look up some of the posts you’ve written about her 🙂 she certainly was quite amazing. I didn’t realise you used to live in Camden, me and my friends go quite a bit just for the shopping, I may have seen you!!!!!!

      Hope you’re well and the family too!!! x

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