Written by Yosra Osman

Arts

Mesmerising, painful and engaging

Yosra Osman looks at Amy, the documentary covering the last decade of the troubled singer’s life.

Amy WinehouseThere’s a moment towards the beginning of Asif Kapadia’s documentary, Amy, where a young Amy Winehouse, bright-eyed and excitable, says: “I don’t think I’ll be famous at all… I couldn’t handle it.” Such is the tone of the film: poignant, captivating, and with a lingering sadness that is almost shattering.

It’s hard to believe such a talented and iconic musician as Amy Winehouse only ever had two albums. Kapadia’s documentary spans 10 years of her life in detail, giving a sensitive and intimate portrait of this vibrant, troubled star. Home videos, photographs, news features, performances and concert footage are cleverly intertwined to give a close-up view of Amy’s life. Over these images we hear contributions from friends, family, fellow musicians, even Blake Fielder-Civil, her ex-husband. This is a very personal documentary, at times mesmerising, often painful, always engaging.

“It’s hard to watch scenes where Winehouse is being hounded by the paparazzi, or visibly uncomfortable performing at gigs she doesn’t want to play.”

The music obviously plays as much a role as the archive footage. You’re reminded just how wonderful Winehouse’s music is. Kapadia effortlessly weaves together footage of recordings in order to fully realise the talent and beauty of Amy’s voice. Songs are carefully placed in such ways that the real story behind them becomes clear. Lyrics were written from life experiences: incredibly personal, Rehab is far more than just a fun melody and catchy chorus.

At the centre, Amy herself is vibrant, funny and provocative. Her personality particularly dominates the screen in the first half. It makes it all the more sad when trouble starts.

Amy WinehouseWe all know how the story ends, but I still found myself in tears at several points through the last half hour of the film. It’s hard to watch scenes where Winehouse is being hounded by the paparazzi, or visibly uncomfortable performing at gigs she doesn’t want to play.

Rather than the natural starlet who loved to sing, she becomes a reluctant exhibition, drinking to get through a performance and staggering to the microphone. Crowds boo, cameras flash and it all becomes greatly disturbing.

There are many questions that could be asked. No one really wants to take responsibility for her downward spiral and her family have loudly rejected the documentary due to how they are portrayed. For me, however, the biggest achievement of Kapadia’s documentary comes in urging me to listen to Winehouse’s gorgeous music again. Amy is a fitting tribute to a brilliant, vulnerable talent. Excuse me while I put Frank on the CD player.

@yozzie_osman

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Written by Yosra Osman

Yosra Osman is a mid-twenties film fan and self-confessed daydreamer of dangerous proportions