Asif Kapadia, director behind the critically acclaimed Senna, brings us yet another biographical film, the emotionally exhausting and harrowing Amy, breathing new life into the deeply troubled and tragic life of singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse.
Amy is told by and through interviews with friends, family, collaborators, and even Whinehouse herself, her personal and cathartic music presenting an intimate portrait of an incredibly charming and complex soul. The filmmakers have at their disposal an incredible amount of never-before-seen footage and new interviews with fellow celebrities and collaborators like Tony Bennett and Mark Ronson, which not only serve to recount her story but serve as a sort of re-introduction of Amy Whinehouse not as a tabloid headliner but offers a profound look at a person instead of a persona. Amy sheds new light and a layer of lucidity to Amy Winehouse’s all-too-brief murky life in the spotlight.
While the filmmakers chronicle her life, we are offered a full spectrum of Winehouse from her undeniable charm, charisma, modesty, and talents but also her shortcomings, a deeply vulnerable woman living with drug addiction and bulimia. Kapadia leads us to fall in love with Amy as we are welcomed in to her life forgetting for a moment the outcome of this story, but when her life becomes unhinged those moments hit us in a way that a lesser director would fail in accomplishing, reminding us that her destiny has been paved. Amy is evocative because of Kapadia’s approach of allowing Amy to touch our lives like she did those around her. As he illustrates, Kapadia mourns a life more than her artistry as that came at a price.
The power of Amy cannot be understated; the film is raw and emotional. Throughout Kapadia manages to weave the audience into Winehouse’s life, using the power of inclusion to emotionally connect with a musician we only thought we knew; this is indeed a rare moment in film where we can truly feel the subject amongst our presence. But, moreover, here is a heartbreaking documentary that perpetuates her legacy with vigor, candor, and profundity that, just like Winehouse herself, never pulls any punches.