I felt extremely blessed to see the Philadelphia premiere of the Asif Kapadia directed Amy Winehouse documentary AMY, due out July 10th. AMY was equal parts beautiful and heartbreaking, a true insight into one of my favorite artists.
The documentary features personal and live video footage from the beginning of her career to her untimely end. AMY begins with video footage from the very early part of her career, from getting signed at age sixteen to the excitement she had buying her own home early on and touring around the UK. It was amazing to see her playing in small clubs with people talking during the whole show and to hear her mesmerizing voice cutting through the crowd. Watching her sing, whether live or in the studio, and seeing how that bold, iconic and strong voice came out so seamlessly was testament to her extreme talent. Her songwriting might as well have been diary entries, as she wrote from her life and how she was feeling. Writing was an outlet for her to get through depression at a very early age.
From the beginning of the documentary you could tell that Winehouse didn’t care for the fame side of being a musician, she just wanted be comfortable enough to continue doing it as a living. But when her music caught fire you could see how much of a nightmare it was for her to become that famous and recognized. It was unnerving to watch videos of the aggressive amount of paparazzi she had to deal with everywhere she went.
Winehouse loved deeply, and maybe a little too deeply. You could see that her problems with drugs and alcohol stemmed from her romantic relationships. Being in love and losing it got Winehouse to a point with drugs where she couldn’t completely enjoy her Grammy win sober. One of the most heart-wrenching parts of the film was hearing the sadness in her friends’ voices as they explained how hard they tried to get Amy Winehouse sober throughout her struggle. One of her friends was even met with resistance from her father, and manager at the time, to keep her in the UK instead of going on tour in the US where she would have easy access to her vices. It seemed as if some of the people on her team cared more about her making money than her well-being. An irony and unfortunate as she never cared about the money or fame side of making music in the first place. As a viewer, you hope the story changes and her friends get through to her over everyone, knowing while you are watching that’s not the case.
This is not just a film to show the rise and fall of one of the greatest artists of our time. It is also a celebration of her life and a true insight into how she affected those who were lucky enough to know her, and even more, so many people around the world with her music.
Make sure you see AMY in theaters near you on July 10th!