Saturday, July 11, 2015

My review of Amy

This afternoon I had the immense pleasure of taking in an afternoon viewing of the recently released film Amy based on the tragic life of pop singer Amy Winehouse. I had been waiting to see this film for a few weeks now.

While everyone in America pretty much knew Amy as a walking trainwreck, director Asif Kapadia wanted to show that there was much more to Amy than what the public saw in the tabloids. Amy was truly a talented artist, troubled but talented nevertheless and a human being to say the very least. The film includes various pictures, film footage, and voice recordings of Amy dating all the way back to when she was a baby. The film also includes many people from Amy's life from her family (who have dissociated themselves with the film accusing the film of telling untruths), friends, and business associates.

I found the film absolutely compelling and equally devastating to watch. Amy Winehouse had so much promise as an artist who was like an old soul trapped in a young body. Sadly her demons were too unrelenting that Amy could not seek the help to address her addictions, namely to alcohol. Right from birth, Amy's life was anything but easy. Her family was dysfunctional. The pain that came from her life would eventually lead Amy down a road of addictions and an eating disorder thus lead to her untimely death.

I understood why Mitch Winehouse dissociated himself with the film. There were moments that made me question his character as a father to Amy but that was never the intention of Asif Kapadia from what I have read in his interviews about the film online. The scene where Mitch shows up with a camera and audio crew in Saint Lucia is one example of why this viewer made me take a dim view of him even for a brief moment (the other him saying Amy didn't need to go to rehab AT THAT TIME, which was edited out of the film). As Asif said in one interview, there is plenty of blame to go around with Amy's family, friends, and business associates but ultimately at the end of the day Amy is the only person who could truly recognize that she had an addiction to narcotics and alcohol and needed help. For anyone who has experienced or has witnessed family members or friends with addictions  is that if they truly want to get clean they first need to recognize it and seek the help. You send a person to rehab all you want but that individual really has to see that they need help and that they want it. I think Mitch is right about that issue. Sadly Amy never reached that moment of clarity that she needed help.

Asides from her troubled personal life, the film shows Amy as an immensely talented artist especially when she would pick up the guitar. I had no idea what Amy Winehouse was capable of as a musician. You can watch this early footage of Amy Winehouse performing "Take the Box"  to get an idea of  what the late artist was capable of. As depressing as the film was, I loved watching a younger and less troubled Amy with her friends and former manager long before the fame and stardom took a toll on her.

I think Asif Kapadia did accomplish his goal and humanized Amy Winehouse. She was much more than that trainwreck on stage in Belgrade where she got booed off for showing up shitfaced and not performing.  Her record label and management knew she was in no shape to perform but still sent her to Belgrade so she could be publicly shamed. Amy was human and not perfect as is anybody else. Looking back, I feel guilty now for all the cracks I made about her physical and mental state. If anything I have become a bigger fan of Amy Winehouse more so than I was before when Back to Black first came out. I truly recommend seeing the documetary. It was far more worth my money than the latest Terminator film which I saw last weekend.

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