REVIEW- Amy: The Girl behind the Name
Directed by: Asif Kapadia
By Marley Amphlett
It’s been a while since a movie has captured my attention quite as much as “Amy”.
This documentary details the heartbreaking, true story of the rise, fall and untimely passing of jazz singer, Amy Winehouse.
The singer first appears on screen in a fuzzy home video, belting out an almost unbelievable and enthusiastic ‘Happy Birthday’ as a fourteen-year-old fresh faced, curvy, ebony haired girl. A stark contrast to what Amy would inevitably become. Prior to her success Amy appears modest about her level of talent.
She seems to have humble aspirations and wide-eyed optimism for her future.
But as she grew, so did the sadness behind her big, winged chestnut eyes. An ongoing sadness that would both plague and aid her throughout her career.
Art by Marley Amphlett
This film presents to the audience a perspective that may not have been previously considered. It is very easy to make jokes, judge or criticize when someone has a reputation for being unreliable and a heroin addict, but how did she come to be this way?
One possibility is the separation of Amy’s parents, Mitch and Janis Winehouse. Mitch, a seemingly inconsistent father and Janis, a timid woman scared to discipline her own child.
Another is the toxic co-dependent relationship she had on and off with Blake Fielder Civil -the man who claimed to love her, but introduced her to crack cocaine. Blake was just one of many unhealthy relationships that Amy would find herself engaged in. By Amy’s own admission, her behaviour, characteristically common of many other drug addicts, was self-sabotaging.
It is easy from an outsider’s perspective to see that very few of the people Amy surrounded herself with were genuine. You could rationalize that when you are in the bubble of drug addiction and have like-minded peers it is easy to justify the behaviour particularly when there is pressure to succeed financially.
Instead of blossoming into a grown woman, she seemed to be in a regressive childlike state both mentally and physically.
I am equally frustrated and sympathetic to her.
A scene that stuck with me, was when Amy was scheduled to perform at the Grammy Awards via satellite. She was nominated for song of the year and the award was being presented by none other than her idol, Tony Bennett.
She was able to perform on the proviso that she had to have been clean for an entire month. On this occasion she was successful. It was what should have been a defining moment in her career and life!
Tony opened the envelope and announced her as the winner. For a brief and shining moment everything was wonderful. She said her “Thank you’”, embraced her friends and family around her.
This was her opportunity to shine. Moments after she left the stage she turned to one of her best friends and said in her distinctive accent “Well, this is boring without drugs.”
And my heart sunk.
If you ever find yourself with two hours to get lost in a film, this would be the one I recommend.
Art by Marley Amphlett