By Adam Ray Palmer
Today’s review is a documentary film about a gifted singer-songwriter that tragically died in 2011. Asif Kapadia, along with contributors including her colleagues, friends and family, made a documentary about Amy Winehouse late last year.
The film received critical acclaim including an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a Bafta for being the best documentary from the past 12 months.
The film hasn’t been too well received by some of her family members but that is to be discussed…
From the team that brought you the documentary Senna about the legendary racing driver Ayrton Senna, comes their next venture into the music world. This time they focus on another star that died way before their time.
Amy tells the story of the late jazz singer Amy Winehouse through her own words, featuring unseen archival footage and unheard tracks. Key family members and friends also recount tales with the talented songstress too.
This documentary starts from when she was just a young teen. Within the first five minutes we learn just how troubled her life was. She battled Bulimia from such an early age but she also had to juggle family issues when her father left her mother. The outset of the film is simple, but sadly very damming.
Kapadia, the director, goes behind Amy’s tabloid image and details where her devastating destruction came from and how it ultimately led to her death at just the age of 27. Asif tells her story with touching comments from her family and friends with exclusive footage. Most footage is hard-hitting and brutal showing her demise and drug-use.
What is different about this documentary to most others is how it solely focuses on her. When contributors share their views on certain matters, you never actually see them. It’s like narration over footage which actually makes a better picture - the film runs a lot smoother.
The best parts of the film are when we see Amy writing and singing her music with the lyrics on the screen. We see first-hand just how talented she was at writing – it’s like poetry in its greatest form.
The beauty of this film comes in the effect it has on the audience. It’s haunting and so powerful that you actually think about it for days after. Personally, I am a huge fan of Amy so I was interested in this movie from the word ‘go’. However, if people have the time to watch this film, you can really empathise with her situation. The film makes the world realise that we have in fact lost a genuine musical star.
Amy always was a fragile soul and she couldn’t deal with her level of fame. Her father Mitch is pictured as a hindrance to her recovery as he constantly seemed to have a say on what she did and when. Even in dire times, he seemed to push Amy to do things that she definitely should not have been doing. I must point out that her father is not happy with the outcome of this film and will be making his own version in the near future. Make of that what you will.
On the whole though, I cannot stress enough how much you need to see this film. I will be giving it five stars but it feels quite odd to be rating a film like this due to its content and how upsetting it is; but I just cannot deny how remarkable the filmmaking is. Asif has an incredible eye for documentary films.
As for Amy Winehouse, I have been enjoying her albums for the past week thanks to this movie. Whether you loved her music or loathed her negative press, Amy is a film that will touch you long after you have left the theatre.
Cineroom’s Rating: 5 Stars
Amy is now out on DVD & Blu-Ray in selected stores and online – Certificate 15. Amazon have the DVD for £7 here.