Amy the Film Review. Videoplugger are proud to be contributors to Amy the film directed by Asif Kapadia.
Chronicling the brilliant but tragically short life of Amy Winehouse.
Amy the film is an original documentary as its solely made using archive footage; previously unseen private recordings by family members, friends, fans and the media. Kapadia found success previously with the Bafta winning documentary Senna similarly made only with archive footage. The family of Winehouse who initially collaborated with Kapadia has now distanced themselves from the project. In a statement the family says: They would like to disassociate themselves from the forthcoming film about their much missed and beloved Amy”.
In defense the makers of the film in a statement says: “During the production process, we conducted in the region of 100 interviews with people that knew Amy Winehouse; friends, family, former-partners and members of the music industry that worked with her. The story that the film tells is a reflection of our findings from these interviews.”
The documentary doesn’t portray the father Mitch Winehouse in a good light. It shows Mitch as a distant figure already during her childhood. As Amy explains; he was not there when they needed a dad telling them listen to their mum, when they needed to go to bed and were behaving badly. However when she starts achieving fame he comes back in her life and famously suggests her not to go into rehab, creates. Her mother also admits in interviews she was not able to say no to Amy, who was headstrong from an early age. She seems to be desperately looking for love in her life, but her short marriage to Blake Fielder-Civil is a passionate but dysfunctional and sad affair, fueling her drug addiction. Her manager Raye Cosbert was another dominant figure who seemed to be pressuring a vulnerable Amy to tour.
The film reveals that Amy was a troubled teen suffering depression and on medication, she was also afflicted by bulimia, which later played a part in her death.
However its hard to pinpoint what exactly drove her over the edge, the media’s relentless hounding of her through the streets of London as portrayed in the film does not make for easy watching, as the situation gets more and more out of hand the footage gets more chaotic and you really have a feeling you are witnessing a human car crash in slow motion, we see a thin Amy in filthy broken ballerina shoes and smudged mascara with her husband in a similar state, the dark side of fame and celebrity.
The archive producer on the film, Paul Bell, who also worked on Senna, introduced the screening, by saying we should save the applauds to the end credits, as the film could not have been made without of all who provided their footage. With the home videos from family and friends, and answer message from Amy, we get very close up and personal with her.
Apparently it took months for the director to gain peoples trust, in order to use the footage from Amy’s friends. Kapadia tells the list: “It was all quite recent and painful for a lot of people, and there was a lot of guilt and mistrust. There was a lot of baggage.”
The constant filming of key moment by her near ones is eerie, as it seems done on purpose to later be exploited. It also highlights the fact that we have become obsessed with capturing our lives on camera, the rise in use of mobile phones to capture everyday life makes it possible to make an archive film about anyone’s life.
The distance of four years is not a lot but Amy the film is a document of an era; of the music scene in London; the drugs; eating disorders; the media’s frenzy and our obsession with celebrity.
The real tragedy is how the whole community failed in shielding and honouring a talent of Amy’s kind. In the words of Jazz Legend Toni Bennett “Jazz is a wonderful art…the great ones that are very talented, know just how to turn jazz singing into a performance that’s unforgettable, and Amy had that gift.” He compared her to the likes of Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington.
Amy is brilliant and heartbreaking, the use of archive footage, interviews and photographs lets Amy’s own voice, poems and music take center stage and her incredible voice echoes inside you well after leaving the cinema.
The Official trailer:
In cinemas on 3rd of July Buy tickets here