When Amy Winehouse hit the radio waves in a big way, I was still in high school off in my little world of rock and roll music. To this day I am only familiar with Amy Winehouse in the following ways; hit single Rehab, the media attention surrounding her addictive habits and her death.
When Amy Winehouse passed away on July 23, 2011, due to alcohol poisoning, it came to no surprise to anyone. Amy Winehouse’s story in the media’s eye is alike to many of those who have joined this mythic 27 club (Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison), the sudden rise in fame and wealth plummeting into a downward spiral that they do not know how to command.
Amy Winehouse broke the mold for a successful pop singer at a time when the look dominated the success rather than the talent behind the voice. She sang about real experience and meaning that the world gravitated towards too. It was something different and may have paved the way for artist such as Adelle to find the success they have obtained. One will always be left to ask is how can someone with so much talent pass away in such an unglorified manner.
Director Asif Kapadia, in a similar fashion to his 2010 documentary Senna, attempts to show Amy Winehouse as who she is through the lens of archived home video tapes and media sources. Amy starts out with a young 16-year-old Amy Winehouse singing a breathtaking yet pure rendition of Happy Birthday To You. Kapadia shows us and makes us aware of an Amy that we have not seen before, an Amy before her sophomore album Back to Black.
Kapadia shares intimate moments with Amy surrounded by friends, family and loved ones at home or cross country. Unfortunately, it is not until her first record deal that the atmosphere around Amy changes. Amy began dating her producer, and drugs are introduced, where her life and status effectively starts turn into a harsh living environment.
It is struggling and gurgling to see talent diminish before the screen. There is a magical element Kapadia present with the of archival footage; all is real. Biopics can never get away with leaving the audience thinking that what they have just seen is all true because elements are always played to give a heighten emotion. Kapadia provides us with some truth edited together from different sources and interviews. The journey feels like a lucid dream and peering into someone else’s mind. In a shocking moment, Amy Winehouse wins the Grammy’s best record of the year and only has “This is so boring without drugs.” to say even though her emotions are at an all-time high. Moments like this fill the runtime of Amy, and it is emotionally grueling.
Amy is gripping real heartfelt story of a tragic star’s rise to fame and their ultimate downfall caused by herself and many around her. Was it her mature lyricism a result of her dire upbringings or was she born with an exceptional talent. Amy leaves a lot of unanswered questions but lets us see the life of this star in a most private way.
Amy is now available from Lionsgate everywhere on Blu-Ray, DVD, and VOD
Amy is not particular special release for picture quality and could honestly suffice with a DVD release only. Most of the footage is taken from home video cameras and internet clips dating before 2011 before HD was prominent in streaming. The only footage made with modern equipment are establishing shots that show landscapes and locations from Amy Winehouse’s youth. What is presented on the Blu-Ray disc is faithful the many of the source materials used, with compression artifact from web clips and fuzzy looking footage from mini DV.
• Previously Unseen Performances by Amy Winehouse
• Previously Unseen Scenes (Deleted Scenes)
• Audio Commentary with Director Asif Kapadia
• Interviews with Friends and musicians