Asif Kapadia returns with Amy, a documentary comprised of childhood videos, family interviews and behind the scenes amateur footage that together tell the story of Amy Winehouse. I know now I never knew her when she was alive and after seeing Amy I know very little more. I sit here listening to the Frank album as I write hoping that’ll change.
Film that sheds light on the machine of celebrity is something I find particularly interesting. Imagine singing in the kitchen as you make your breakfast and your neighbour, a talent scout for that massive record company, recognises you as a talent. You’ve loved Electro music all your life for no real reason, it just spoke to you. Your family, friends and the real you drop back to the tail-end of your twisted list of unwanted priorities as your profitability in the Electro music industry becomes paramount. Fame is a beast that affects people whether they want it to or not and unfortunately Amy, even with tonnes of support, perished beneath it.
The film definitely demonizes Amy’s husband Blake, potentially rightly so, as his influence over her was manipulative in the least. I was reminded of those glorious husbands or wives of celebrities who step back on the red carpet and don’t inhabit limelight real-estate as Blake head-locked Amy continuously in every paparazzi opportunity or shoot – I can’t imagine the sweet-nothings he implanted in her mind in the crack-ridden pit of a London home they holed up in. Part of me thinks he killed the real Amy more than the media did but conversely I can’t alleviate the blame from her doctors who somehow let them attend rehab together…
My angry writing clearly shows the documentary riled me up enough to make me mourn the starlet and hate the fact she died all over again despite not knowing anywhere near the full story. Amy looked like a singer, she had that smile; her manager says words to the effect of “She could make you feel like the most important person in the world, and then turn around make you feel invisible” – not just anyone can do that or does do that.
Senna, Kapadia’s last documentary, is definitely worth a watch if you enjoy Amy. The film is definitely a celebration of her life (the footage of her recording her hits with the lyric overlay were marvellous and memorable) despite the drama surrounding her substance abuse – “Jules, this is so boring without drugs” she says to one of her best friends after winning a Grammy. Owch.