13 July 2015

Amy, 2015 - ★★★★

As a follow up to Senna and already knowing the briefest details of Winehouse's tragic life, it came as no surprise that Amy was an incredibly effective and sad film.

Her story is told simply and chronologically with few surprises but it's so well put together. Early conversations about Tony Bennett initially feel like standard documentary fare but take on more significance later on. Perhaps the most beautiful parts of the film are the moments when the lyrics of the songs come to life to reveal their devastating depth and meaning; it's these lyrics that are the real story of Amy.

The thing that stuck with me the most though feels a little strange. The film starts with a strobe warning, which for a music documentary doesn't feel unusual. It didn't occur to me that Winehouse's live shows were probably not huge light shows. The strobing effects are used in the paparazzi scenes and literally shine a blinding light on just how terrible this behaviour is. Somebody in the film mentions the "british press" and it's really sickening to know that this is something your home country is known for (although I'm sure the US tabloid press is pretty bad as well). I found myself thinking how can this be allowed, in a way I usually only feel whenever the gun control argument frequently crops up in the US - can you not just see it's fundamentally wrong.

However a horrible inevitable truth is that without all the press coverage of Amy's life it feels like it would be impossible to make most of the film.

The film raises other serious issues about addiction, depression, substance abuse, the desire for fame from those with no talent and how those with the talent are forced down the paths of fame. It also shows how these issues are often misunderstood and simply overlooked when it should be obvious they need to be talked about more.

July 13, 2015 at 09:53PM

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