Asif Kapadia’s Amy finally hits Korean cinemas on November 5 following plaudits from critics and cinema goers across the world. Bringing together previously unseen footage of the British singer alongside over 100 interviews, Kapadia – who previously brought us the fantastic Senna – seeks to tear away the media glitter, gutter-sniping and glare in order to give the audience a truer view of the Grammy-award winning artist. Winehouse’s untimely death at the age of 27 left two albums, a haunting collection of images and an unseemly plethora of finger-pointing as family, ex-lovers and friends clamoured to filch sympathy or blame each other for her demise.
The documentary focuses on blending interviews with footage from Amy’s youth, private moments and time in the spotlight. It can be an uncomfortable watch, with scenes of the singer trying to avoid journalists and photographers as she leaves her home particularly unpalatable. Additionally, some of the men in her life – specifically father Mitch Winehouse and ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil – are unlikely to be going for repeat viewings, with both men coming across more like vultures than people who genuinely cared for her. Kapadia is careful to avoid hectoring about media intrusion or blaming those close to her, and yet the footage speaks volumes of a woman who found herself buffeted by forces that only had their best interests at heart.
Kapadia is developing a habit of engaging with subjects who died far too young, and for many, Amy Winehouse’s death left a full gamut of emotions. Her passing – ultimately from alcohol poisoning – will be seen by many as a massive waste of talent, although her presence in the ‘27-club’, alongside such departed luminaries as Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Kurt Kobain, will only be further-assured in the public’s eye by this documentary. Perhaps it is better to burn out than fade away, though some of the archive footage shows a painfully shy yet talented girl who perhaps had little idea of how to deal with the fame she was propelled towards while still a teenager.
The shocked whispered awe of the chattering masses that greeted her passing that day in July, 2011 showed that it wasn’t just the music that was lost, but also a prime target for the gleefully gossip-hungry. This documentary will do something to bring Amy back to those who cared more for the girl and the music than the tabloid wrangling, paparazzi bullying and demand for dirty linen. For those, her enduring image will be of a beautiful young woman standing dumbstruck on stage as her Grammy win for record of the year is announced by her idol Tony Bennett. Something perfect, heart-breaking and timeless.
Amy opens on November 5 at selected cinemas across the country.