You’ve probably seen the posters for Amy; a new documentary about musician Amy Winehouse, who – like so many great rock stars – tragically died at the age of 27.
Director Asif Kapadia, who also made the brilliant Senna, has perfected this heartbreaking documentary format; whether you like Winehouse’s music or not (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?), you’re sure to be moved by this sensitive portrait of a talented and troubled young woman from north London. With a spine-tingling use of Amy’s soulful music, the film deftly illustrates the perfect storm that caused her death in 2011, with the same tragic sense of inevitability we saw in Senna. This repeats the style of the 2010 sports doc, using extensive footage and the voices (without talking heads) of Amy’s friends and collaborators, including ?uestlove and Mos Def – now known as Yasiin Bey, having changed his name twice during Dexter.
More than just a celebration of one of the greatest voices in pop history, this is an illuminating, in-depth and ultimately heartbreaking documentary about a woman fighting a losing battle with addiction, depression and fame. We see how those around her deflected responsibility for her health, steering her away from rehabilitation because there was so much money at stake – but this was a girl in need of support, not cash. No stranger to publicity, Amy’s dad Mitch has openly criticised the documentary – and he doesn’t exactly come out of it well. But the film also focuses on the role played by the media; flashing cameras follow the jazz singer wherever she goes, willing her to crash and burn for our tabloid entertainment.
It’s ironic that Amy Winehouse’s iconic face is plastered all over London to promote a movie all about the exploitation of her image, but the film is brilliantly handled and thought-provoking throughout. Go see it. Now.