Amy (2015)

I remember when Amy Winehouse died back in 2011, we all knew, sooner rather than later, it would eventually happen, but it was a shock nevertheless. I didn't know much about her though, only that she had an alcohol problem and that she was in a toxic relationship. Learning more about her is what made me watch Amy.

This documentary indeed tells the story of the life and death of Amy Winehouse, a talented singer and songwriter with a unique voice as well as a very tormented soul destroyed by alcohol, drugs and especially self-sabotage and self-destruction.

It starts in 1998, with a teen Amy smiling to the camera, and then it follows her as she makes her breakthrough and as the side effects of fame and the influence of the media take her to a point of no-return.

Because fame, as I've learnt from Asif Kapadia's documentary, put Amy in a position she didn't want to find herself into as she knew she wouldn't have been able to handle it. She didn't want fame because she knew it would make her mad and that she would lose control.

The fact that she had a tendency to abuse alcohol and drugs, that she also suffered from depression at some point and also become bulimic, only played a part in destroying her. The biggest role, as I was saying, was played by the media, constantly laughing at her problems, and by the people around her who just didn't care (enough) about her. Her manager, for example, only cared about her career and even pushed her out of rehab to make her perform. Her boyfriend, Blake Fielder, who introduced her to hardcore drugs, is the kind of guy a girl like her should never meet. With her attitude, falling in love with a "man" like Blake could only mean her downfall.

Her problems though started long before fame came. Many of her problems actually came from her childhood. Her parents' breakup was very tough on her but the problem is the kind of people they are. Her father was never there when she needed him, only came back when she was famous and it was therefore convenient to him; her mother was just too weak to take care of Amy and keep her under control on her own, as she also admitted. I'm not saying Amy isn't to be blamed for the life she got, I'm just saying the people in her life screw her up big.

Altitude Film Distribution, A24
The astonishing aspect of this documentary is that it almost consists entirely of existing footage. There are a lot of Amy's home videos, photos, interviews and live performances, and the numerous interviews, instead of being your typical documentary interviews where someone talks to the camera, are voice-overs. And it's truly incredible what the filmmakers managed to achieve. Also, Kapadia presented Amy in the form of a narrative drama to make it more captivating, and it works perfectly.

Ultimately, Amy does a wonderful job in showing how and why people try drugs in the first place and how and why they become addicted to them. But most of all, it is a raw, heartbreaking, dark and absorbing documentary about probably the most tormented artist of recent years, and, whether your opinion about her is, it makes it clear that only one person should be blamed for Amy Winehouse's death, Amy herself.


  1. I saw this documentary last year and it fucked me up. I kinda knew that Amy was headed for an early grave but it could've been avoided if she had the time to just rest and not be around the likes of her father. It was grueling but still captivating to watch.

  2. This is an amazing, and very sad doc. It has lots in common with a recent doc about Janis Joplin, of course. That one's called Janis: Little Girl Blue and is also excellent.

    1. I don't think I've ever heard of her. I might still give the doc a chance.