Hindsight Can Be Painful: A Review of ‘Amy’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - July 10, 2015
Hindsight Can Be Painful: A Review of ‘Amy’

When a beloved musical talent leaves this mortal coil far too soon, it is always a sad thing especially that now in hindsight, we should have seen it coming.  Amy is a heartbreaking tale told in Winehouse’s own words and lyrics as we track her rise to prominence and in hindsight realize that we should’ve seen her tragic fall coming from a mile away.

Amy or Amy Winehouse was a once in a generation talent that captured the attention of the entire planet the very second that she opened her mouth to sing.  An authentic jazz artist who looked inward for her own voice and laid herself emotionally bare through her lyrics as she analyzed her own life with raw and unflinching honesty.  It earned her a legion of adoring fans but the kind of media attention that not many are equipped for and this along with her precarious lifestyle caused her life to fall apart to the point where she died of alcohol poisoning.

I can’t honestly say that Amy is what you’d call a great documentary, but it is a gut-wrenchingly memorable one as it rises above the tabloid element and we understand why she died in her own words.

Director Asif Kapedia, coming off of the success of his film Senna in a very similar way.  No static interviews or talking heads, it is 100% archival footage and voice over from those who knew her best.  This method tracks her life in a way that is both sympathetic but absolutely unbiased.  It’s the rise and fall of a star, and when we genuinely look at her words which Kapedia deftly sprinkles across the screen it plays as such an incredibly tragic affair as this woman was simply never built for the spotlight.  The tragedy here comes in the form that Kapedia uses, it doesn’t matter if you know her story or not, it is just a train wreck that is coming from miles away.  He lets us wallow in the fact that nobody stopped it, she was a fragile talent that the world demanded more then she was capable to give.  The film not only shines a light on the cult of fame and how she was at the beginning of her career trying to be packaged into something that she was not, but also on the cult of fan and how she could never separate herself from the people that adored her and the people who wanted to see her crash and burn.  Seeing her dad, Mitch Winehouse (who has recently distanced himself from the film) come down to the islands where she is trying to recharge her batteries and get away from it all with a reality film crew is something that will make your heart break and want to punch the screen at the exact same time.

Ultimately, Amy is a hard but loving tribute as we get to relish in the talent that she was, and mourn the fragile artist that couldn’t survive the weight of the world that her talent brought down on her shoulders that simple couldn’t bare it.  She was one of a kind, and while it is probably a little too brutal for the casual fan, for the music aficionado…it is a must see.

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This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.

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