Amy. 2015. Great Britain. Directed by Asif Kapadia. 128 min.
British filmmaker Asif Kapadia’s documentary portrait of rhythm and blues/jazz singer Amy Winehouse is made up of archival image and sound footage from a range of personal and public sources, much of it never previously released. From a home movie of a teenage Amy singing “Happy Birthday” to a friend to the recording of a sophisticated duet with Tony Bennett shortly before her death at age 27, the singer’s story is told through her own lyrics and music and through footage of the singer with friends, in recording studios, in concert, and in public appearances. What emerges is the tale of a profoundly talented singer with depth well beyond her years, an artist who sought quietude but was drawn to a fast lifestyle and bad men. The film records the downward spiral of a rare and unique talent who was also vulnerable to the pressures of stardom, family, and lovers. Amy is a bitterly sad and incredibly important film: without this record, the world would never have known about the true depth of this singular talent. Crucially, the film does not absolve the media or the audience for its rapacious desire to keep a naive Jewish girl with a musical soul stuck in the limelight. Courtesy of A24 Films.