Review of Amy
Director: Asif Kapadia
Cast: Amy Winehouse, Mitchell Winehouse, Blake Fielder-Civil.
Occasionally a film will come along that haunts you. It stays in your mind for days after you have viewed it. It leaves an imprint on you that lingers. There is a distinct possibility Amy will be one of these films.
In 2010 film director Asif Kapadia released a documentary film entitled Senna. The film utilised archive footage along with interviews to tell the story of Formula 1 driver Ayreton Senna. The film was released to critical praise and it provided an honest and sometimes very tender portrayal of Senna. Kapadias' latest project, Amy, is set to be just as successful. Amy chronicles the all too short and often chaotic life of British musical talent Amy Winehouse.
Just as with Senna the film is constructed using from archive footage, interviews (100 in total) and Amy's own music which forms the soundtrack. This is all deftly edited together to tell the story of Amy's rise from teenage musical prodigy to the tortured yet beautifully talented soul she was when she so unjustly passed away in 2011. We see her battle alcohol, drugs, bulimia and her own personal demons. The film follows her turbulent relationship with Blake as well as other partners, friendships and familial relationships are all put on display as we delve into her life.
The film effectively ensnares and gets you invested in the narrative utilising some effective techniques. As with Senna, interviews are used to narrate along with audio archive footage. The interviews are used as a voice over whilst onscreen we watch archive footage of Amy. We do not see the people being interviewed. This has the effective of focusing you on what is screen, on Amy.
The result of this is that you are drawn into the story. You are drawn to Amy and into her life. You begin to connect with her on a personal level as you see her through the eyes of friends, family, lovers and the media. This culminates in an intimacy that lingers and you almost begin to feel like you are a friend or an acquaintance. This filters through the entire film.
Kapadia utilises the way Amy wrote lyrics as a coping mechanism, as a method of dealing with what was going on around her as a the backbone of the film. Her lyrics tell her story, just as they did in life. They mirrored her pain and her happiness and Kapadia respects this. Effectively, Amy tells her story and Kapadia has fitted the pieces together like a jigsaw. This makes it all the more personal.
On its release the film was met with negativity and accusations of clever editing and inaccuracies but whatever the rela-life accuracy of the film the portrayal of this vulnerable and elegantly talented individual highlights her difficulty in coping with what her life spiralled into, but it also showed the girl behind all of the headlines. The funny, charismatic and charming girl who was destined to be a musical artist.
There is only one word to describe this film. Beautiful. It is affecting and draws you in in a way that keeps you invested throughout the film. You are then given an emotional hangover to deal with for a time after you leave the cinema. Amy is intoxicating and it will engulf you. Listen to her music after you have watched this and it is guaranteed to feel different.