Image: The Guardian
A documentary, directed by Asif Kapadia
This long (128 minutes) film is a fascinating yet flawed look at the late singer. This is one of those films with a lot of ‘common’ English; it would have benefited in having subtitles. Amy grew up in London, and there was a fair amount of footage of her when she was a teen and young adult before she became famous. The early footage is rough, lots of jpeg artifacts and fuzzy images. As it progresses the quality of footage becomes progressively better: by the end, it is almost all in HD. Conversely, the amount of the ‘real’ Amy begins to recede as she is devoured by the press, drugs, drinking, and bulimia. But even towards the end, she had her moments—the sequence shot shortly before her death (with Tony Bennett) is superb
Amy Winehouse was a stylist, a singer who also had the ability to write strong lyrics and possessed an unerring knack for composing melody. It would be hard to project what she would have become if she had lived: the film gave me the impression that she wasn’t a particularly deep person. The men in her life were abysmal. The film tried to make her parents’ divorce as life-shattering; I'm sure it was traumatic. But she did have a full family life, spending time with both parents (as well as having a very strong grandmother.)
You should really be in the mood for a film like this, there is no humor in it, and the depictions of her ‘down’ periods are harrowing.