The death of Amy Winehouse in 2011 didn’t so much come as a shock to casual fans. It was more of a sad, predictable ending. Years before her death, stories of her issues with drugs and alcohol had come to the surface to the point that it became a running joke among comedians and late night talk show hosts. There was mourning for the loss of a tremendous talent, but not much sympathy for the death of a well-known addict.
That view has changed gradually in the last couple of years. Thanks to a 2015 documentary about her life that was met with critical acclaim, viewers saw a different side of the troubled singer, one that helped fans understand the struggle her so called “easy life” had become.
Directed by Asif Kapadia and named simply Amy, the 2015 documentary is available for free on Amazon Prime.
The most fascinating aspect of the documentary is the astounding amount of private videos and recordings the filmmakers are able to show of the singer.
Pulled from home movies, outtakes and even paparazzi photos and videos, audiences are granted more access to Winehouse’s personal life than anyone would have thought possible.
With this extensive footage, Kapadia is able to form a complete story without having to film anything or even show the interviews that took place with Amy’s family and friends. It’s refreshing to not have to see the same format that countless other docs have used to death-showing the interviewee, cutting briefly to a photo or video that relates to what is being said, and then back to the person talking.
Using only the audio from the interviews, the audience is able to watch the footage from a close perspective, less like an outside viewer and more like someone in Winehouse’s inner circle. Knowing what is really going through her mind as she’s being filmed offers a chance to see things from Amy’s point of view instead of what the tabloid news reported.
Even moments that were televised at the time, like when she won the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album, are radically changed because now the audience knows exactly what she was dealing with at that moment.
If you’re like me, this film will give you a new appreciation for the late singer, and not just from a talent-oriented perspective. The endless stream of cameras watching her every move becomes truly sickening, and seeing people revel in someone’s struggles leaves a bad feeling in the pit of one’s stomach.
Instead of seeing an addict destroy themselves with drugs and alcohol, with Amy, you see a person struggling to deal with the horrors of intense fame and an unreliable inner circle. As far as documentaries go, this may be one of the more powerful pieces I have seen. This film is highly recommended.