Thursday, June 29, 2017

Amy (2015 film)

Directed by Asif Kapadia, Amy is a documentary about the life and career of British singer Amy Winehouse who rose big during the mid-to-late 2000s only to die tragically at the age of 27 in July of 2011. The film follows her tumultuous career as well as her struggles with substance abuse and various issues as well as fame itself that would eventually take its toll as it is presented with existing footage from her life and career with commentary by the people who were close to her as well as those who worked with. The result is a harrowing yet intoxicating film from Asif Kapadia.

On October of 2006, Amy Winehouse releases her second album Back to Black which was a blend of jazz and soul that unexpected became one of the biggest albums of the 21st Century so far. Winehouse would become this major star all over the world but the fame would eventually prove too much as the singer had struggles in her personal life such as a tumultuous marriage to longtime boyfriend Blake Fielder-Civil and her own battles with bulimia, alcoholism, and drug abuse that would ultimately claim her life on July 23, 2011 at the age of 27. The film is about Winehouse’s tragic life as it’s largely told through existing footage from home movies, concerts, recording sessions, and such throughout the course of her life as well as interviews from her own words during her lifetime as well as audio interviews from those who knew her.

With the aid of editor Chris King as well as sound editors Stephen Griffiths and Andy Shelley compiling many of the interviews with Winehouse’s friends, family, and collaborators during the course of the film. Asif Kapadia would use all of this footage to tell Amy’s story from this young girl who had lived largely with her mother after her parents divorced at the age of nine to her love for music when she was in her teens. Notably jazz as she was considered someone who knew every jazz record from front to back as her first album in 2003’s Frank showcased that love as her original aspirations were to just be a jazz singer playing small jazz clubs and succeed through that. Once she moved to the Camden area in North London during a thriving period in the music scene where a lot of indie bands such as the Kills and Babyshambles were playing at that time. Things suddenly changed when Winehouse met Fielder-Civil who would introduce her to drugs and all sorts of things.

Fielder-Civil isn’t a bad person as he really did love Winehouse but he was part of a scene that was quite destructive and it definitely snowballed into total chaos as they would marry in 2007 until he would be incarcerated for possession later that year. The person that is the film’s real villain is Winehouse’s father Mitchell who would be in Amy’s life around the time she would become famous and then use her for his own reality TV show that had him with a camera crew when all she wanted was her father. It’s among these moments in the film that is heartbreaking to watch as well as Winehouse’s big moment when she won Grammys including one for Record of the Year for the song Rehab where she was in Britain because she wasn’t well-enough to travel. Family and friends were at this event with her as it should’ve been a big moment but a friend of Winehouse recalled how sad it was because all Winehouse wanted was to get high to cope with not having her husband around and all of the bullshit that fame has brought her.

The final months of Winehouse’s life didn’t just show her trying to clean herself up and get ready to make a new album but it also showed the struggle she was going through that led to her final concert a month before her death in Belgrade, Serbia where the footage is just sad. Especially as she wasn’t mentally nor emotionally ready to perform in front of a large audience as it show how far she’s descended as the people in her band were concerned as are management and others in the industry which is quite surprising considering how cynical the music business is. With the aid of cinematographers Rafael Bettega, Jake Clennel, and Ernesto Herrmann in shooting aerial footage of some of the locations that were important in Winehouse’s life. Kapadia would also emphasize the importance of Winehouse’s music as lyrics would appear on some of the footage to express the pain of what she was singing to express parts of her life while there’s score music by Antonio Pinto, that is mainly ambient music with some orchestral piano pieces, that play into some of the darker moments in Winehouse’s tragic life.

Amy is a tremendous film from Asif Kapadia. It’s a film that isn’t just an artist that was gone too soon but also a troubled exploration of someone with a great gift but had trouble dealing with additional baggage that comes with being successful. In the end, Amy is a visceral yet astonishing film from Asif Kapadia.

Asif Kapadia Films: (The Sheep Thief) - (The Warrior (2001 film)) - (The Return (2006 film)) - (Far North (2007 film)) - Senna - (Ali and Nino)- Diego Maradona (2019 film)

© thevoid99 2017


Anonymous said...

This was a real heartbreaker.

Brittani Burnham said...

This film was SO hard to watch.

thevoid99 said... is. I found some of the jokes about Winehouse during that time when she was struggling to be very offensive and uncalled for. Makes me respect people like David Letterman and Conan O'Brien even more because they don't stoop that low to get a laugh.

@Brittani-It is such a hard film to watch just in terms of how sad it is. Especially in some of those moments where she is being forced into a situation and she couldn't handle it.