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. Plus there are almost continual interviews with friends and family played over the video material, which does give the story its direction.

Amy (2015) – a documentary film review

amy

I’d say I was mainly indifferent to Amy Winehouse 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 and popular singer with a retro beehive. She looked like a laugh but was also a mess. A little controversial and continually in the press. Genuinely – I did not mean to make that rhyme.

But 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 musician she was, playing the guitar and writing her own songs – which were all biographical and full of heart and soul.

She was into jazz from an early age and her earlier music (before Mark Ronson stuck his trumpet in) was so bluesy and gorgeous. 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 often depressed, sometimes violent and she clearly had, I’m not saying a bad childhood exactly but perhaps not the most stable and nourishing 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 up 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 somewhat of a mystery but they can’t take the entire blame for her downfall. You could tell she was going to be a loose cannon. In the earliest footage she was feisty and funny, a fan of smoking weed and getting drunk. I think certain people just have something in them and fame exacerbates it – whatever ‘it’ may be. For Amy it was made even harder because the press wouldn’t leave her alone, even at most 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, insecurity and wit were evident and I guess the bottom line is that I just 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.

About emmakwall

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

  1. Pingback: Films I Watched In: February | emmakwall (explains it all)

  2. Pingback: Films I Watched In: January | emmakwall (explains it all)

  3. jwforeva says:

    Nice review 🙂 I’m going to watch this myself, let’s see if i’ll enjoy it as much as you did!

  4. Cici says:

    I loved Amy Winehouse, her voice was simply amazing. I can’t wait to watch this.
    Ohhh I still have VHS tapes even the VCR! I love how they look…

    • emmakwall says:

      Yay!!! Hi Cici!!! 😀 I have lots of catching up to do at the moment so if I haven’t replied to all your comments yet (or looked at your latest posts!) I am getting there! 🙂

      Do you have a favourite song by Amy? Let me know what you think of the doc!!! I thought it was brilliant.

      Haha, gotta love VHS!! I still have a few at home too 🙂

      I kept In the Mouth of Madness as could never find it on DVD lol.

      • Cici says:

        Its okay. Its January busiest and most boring month of the year.
        Definitely Valerie. But I love most of her songs so picking a favorite is really hard.
        I have The Bodyguard and Pocahontas. Oh and Home Alone. But I think I have them because I never really returned them to the shop. *so embarrassed* I think that was back in the early 2000’s

  5. lifebylaurax says:

    Aw I wish I’d seen this post before cause I would deffo have recorded this! Really want to see it and now even more so… maybe it’s on catch up or something?! xx

    • emmakwall says:

      Hi Laura!!! Aw I hope it is, I know you’d love it (but it is really sad!) it could possibly be on 4od and I THINK one of my friend’s watched it on Amazon Prime? I bet they’ll show it again soon anyway and it’s on DVD 🙂

      How are you? xxx

  6. Such an honest and heartbreaking documentary. Lovely write-up Emma, I’m glad you enjoyed this! Although given how it makes you feel at the end, perhaps enjoy isn’t the right word!

    • emmakwall says:

      Thanks so much Anna! It’s definitely an odd one for me. I watched it in pretty much full silence (unusual for me….as my bf would agree!) and it wasn’t until after that I realised how much it had got in my head. Haunting is definitely the word.

  7. I was moved by it too. Sad, but great film. Love the review Ems!

  8. movierob says:

    looking forward to seeing this! nice job as always ems!

  9. The Vern says:

    Im sad to have missed seeing this in theaters. I hope to catch it now that it is on Video but i cant find places that will rent VHS. Can I borrow yours?

  10. elissalynch says:

    I like your review style, Emma. Very authentic :). Would love to feature your reviews in our weekly curated email digest that goes out to thousands of people.

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