Saturday, July 11, 2015

Amy - Review

Amy – Review

Amy is a 2015 British documentary film that tells the life story of singer-songwriter superstar Amy Winehouse who rocketed to stardom and by the age of 27 was dead due to alcohol intoxication and the long term effects of drugs and bulimia.

Directed by Asif Kapadia, the film starts with a 1998 home movie of the 14-year-old precocious Winehouse singing along with her long-time friend, Juliette Ashby, at the birthday party of their mutual friend, Lauren Gilbert, at a home in Southgate, London.  From there on the film is a very entertaining, informative and pleasant paced effort  showing the songwriter's life from her infant childhood to her established music career that quickly attained commercial success through her debut album, “Frank” (2003), the number one album of the 21st century and her critically acclaimed multiple Grammy winning “Back to Black” (2006). The film also delves into to her troubled intimate relationships, those who (in my estimation) selfishly leeched on her success, her relationship with her divorced parents, her hidden secret of bulimia nervosa and her eventual slow spiraling downfall from addictive drugs and alcohol addiction that lead her death on a Saturday July 23, 2011 in Camden, London, England.

Overall the film provided some superb footage of Winehouse many performances and songs, as well as her insights about music, her early music influences, how she felt about love and what she wanted to accomplish, especially her desire to make music without all of the kinetic energy of fame itself that typically comes along with being a success in the music entertainment industry.

PROS: Amy (documentary) is as mesmerizing of a cinematic effort of a real life story you will ever see. And if you like music as I am certain all humans do in some form, you can see early on that Miss Winehouse was born with a truly rare gift of musical interpretation that set her apart from a generation of other singers like no other. Aptly described in the film, Amy Winehouse was a “genius old soul in a young woman’s body”. The film “Amy” took me down a path of lush musical vocal richness that had me wondering where she came up with her phrasing in that instinctive moment; a gift from the gods I guess one would say. 

“Amy” is a powerful punch to your musical gut and soul as we watch this great talent move perilously to the sadness that awaits us the viewer of her shorten life. And with each progression of the film’s march to her faithful conclusion you wonder almost aloud in the theater why someone didn’t just grab her physically to save her. Some did try, but as you will discover watching this film you wonder if sometimes if destiny is just bigger than someone’s ability of just saying “no” to a friend.

CONS: None.

CONCLUSION: “Amy” shows the dual effects of how fame not unlike for so many other entertainers that proceeded her (Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin & Kurt Kobain) can have an oxymoronic effect on a talented life allowing some to achieve both incredible financial and critical success and almost simultaneously a cryptic irreversible damaged personal life. While I felt like most people going in to see “Amy” that this would be a confirming tale of how she had wasted her talent; I was wrong.  Instead the film with the steady hand of its Director moved away from that morbid idea towards a more enduring belief that along with an incredible talent she was also a warm, funny, personable, smart, self-assured, sweet, attractive, sexy and overall a very lovely human being.

Amy is something both highly entertaining and other times powerfully hard to watch. And while it has the feeling of a slow moving unraveling devastating train wreck, the film manages nonetheless to emotionally keep you focus much less on the notoriety of her death and more on the incredible vocal talent she possessed.  

Amy will certainly be nominated for an Academy Award Best Documentary and if my pass success in predictions holds true I believe it is now the favorite to win. I will also say unless some eight better films come along for the remainder of the year, it “Amy” will be hard pressed not to be in my personal top 10 films for 2015. It gets inside your head with so much raw and real intimacy I felt Miss Winehouse was in the theater just to sing to me.

This is a must see film for 2015. A great story, a great talent, a tragic ending and some great music to both spirit you emotionally away and to remind you of her unique gifted spirit.

4 Stars

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