Amy (2015)

Amy (2015)

Though it sometimes borders on voyeurism, this incredibly intimate documentary uncovers new depths of the legendary singer’s misunderstood persona

7.6

Movie

United Kingdom
English
Documentary, Music
2015
ASIF KAPADIA
Amy Winehouse, Blake Fielder, Frankie Boyle
128 min

TLDR

It’s an unsettling but necessary watch, one that respects its once-in-a-generation singer enough to highlight her multifaceted self.

What it's about

Using intimate home videos, phone conversations, archival footage, and interviews, director Asif Kapadia looks into British singer Amy Winehouse’s life behind the curtain.

The take

In Amy, Kapadia eschews talking heads for something more intimate: home videos, photographs, and phone messages from Winehouse’s earliest and closest friends, which he stitches together to reintroduce a version of the singer that has, up till this point, been ignored by the public. It’s an attempt to reverse Winehouse’s vilified public persona, not by denying her struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, but by showing as many parts of her as possible. The musical prodigy, jazz fanatic, and sweet friend, as well as the troubled soul, hurt child, and obsessive lover. She’s far from perfect, but she is human, not some punching bag caricature the media has made her out to be. Though Kapadia’s methods sometimes get a little too close for comfort (using phone messages intended for her friends and private clips of her being high feels borderline voyeuristic), they also feel necessary in reclaiming an identity that’s closer to her true self. During these questionable moments, Amy feels not just hard but wrong to watch, but that discomfort is also the point. It should be unsettling to get to know a real person.

What stands out

Winehouse’s incredible, indisputable talent, as well as her love for the craft. She was often criticized for not caring enough for it, but this documentary (especially during her scenes with Tony Bennett) easily disproves that.

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