Amy: Film Review – Honest, brutal and spectacular

It seems as if biopics can only turn out two ways. They can either glorify or vilify their subjects. Admittedly, finding the middle ground can be difficult, but Asif Kapadia makes it look effortless with Amy.

Given her history, it would’ve been easy to make Amy Winehouse look like a martyr or a villain. However, Amy refrains from doing that. It simply states the facts and poses some difficult questions, letting us arrive at our own conclusions.

Amy gives us an insight into the troubled songstress’ life through archival footage, paparazzi pictures, live performances, home videos and, of course, her music. Winehouse’s music was heavily influenced by her life and turbulent relationships, and the film perfectly syncs the incidents in her personal life with her music and lyrics. In retrospect, it is incredibly clear that a lot of Amy’s work was a cry for help. However, the casual attitude with which much of her demons were brushed off will shock you. The film also gives us a close look at her relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil, the man that many blamed for her downfall and eventual death.

No topic is off-limits for Amy. The film gives us a brutally honest look at her family, her relationship, and her struggles with bulimia and addiction. The best part about Asif Kapadia‘s biopic is that it doesn’t do this to sensationalize or get people talking. In fact, Amy manages to be remarkably respectful, even when it’s showcasing her at her lowest low. This is exactly what makes it heart-wrenching. It showcases how easy it would’ve been to keep Amy Winehouse alive and well, but also how easy it was to brush most of her troubles under the rug. This was especially true considering the enablers and miscreants in her life, right from her parents to her husband.

All this footage is punctuated with anecdotes and stories by the people nearest and dearest to Amy. This includes her family, friends and other musicians she worked with or influenced. Pete Doherty, Mark Ronson and Tony Bennett‘s stories stand out the most, emphasizing both her talent and her struggles.

Along with this, Amy also showcases some cornerstone performances. Right from her breakthrough live performance of Rehab at Later… with Jools Holland to the Belgrade show that marked the end of Amy as we knew her.

Amy is hard to watch. It is a documentary that will make you uncomfortable, because of how brutally honest it is. Above all, though, it is a stunning, no-holds-barred look at a troubled and talented woman. It is riveting and manages to hold our attention even though we know how the story ends. And somehow, knowing the ending doesn’t make it hurt any less.

Why should you watch this film?
If you’re a fan of Amy Winehouse and want to go beyond the music, Amy is the perfect film to dig deeper into the life of the legend. It will make you uncomfortable and force you to think. This gut-wrenching film is a must-watch for fans across the board.

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