Amy Winehouse was the latest great musician to join the infamous “27 club” when she tragically died of an overdose in July of 2011. On its July 3 UK release, Amy, the new Amy Winehouse documentary, broke the UK box office record for a Non-Fiction film. This record turnout shows the love the public still has for this superstar who succumbed to her own personal demons. What makes the film so powerful is its authenticity. Legendary producer Mark Ronson, who was a close friend and collaborator with Winehouse, has hailed this documentary as a true portrayal of the Amy he knew behind the scenes.


Amy’s Demise was More Than Just Drug Addiction

One may think that this film would focus solely on the drug and alcohol addiction that took her life, but director Asif Kapadia showed the bigger picture. He shows Amy the person and focuses on this side of her rather than the side that was portrayed by the media during her life.amywinehouse

One of the most tragic parts of the film is her relationship with her parents, particularly with her father. In fact, her father filed a defamation lawsuit when he saw the first cut of the film. The reason her family got so upset as they are portrayed as one of the “villains” of Amy’s life.

Her father has adamantly claimed that the film misrepresented their relationship. The team behind the film edited the version in question before it hit theaters and her father dropped the lawsuit, but he still wasn’t thrilled with the portrayal. There has been talks of her father producing his own documentary to set the story straight.

In spite of this hiccup during production, Kapadia has still portrayed her family in a less-than-ideal light. He shows them as cold and distant, and shows that Amy is desperate for her father’s love and approval.


Amy’s Rise and Fall

The media portrayal of Amy when she first burst on the scene was a comparison to the powerful voice of Aretha Franklin, but it took an ugly fall with similar quickness. One of the main points of the film is her relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil. It is impressive how the director handles the complexity of this relationship. It would have been easy to make Blake the main antagonist in Amy’s life, as he is the one who really got her into habitual use of hard drugs. Instead, he choose to show how Blake was suffering from his own issues, as the film reveals he tried to cut himself as young as nine years old.

It also focuses on Amy’s support group, which was composed of her manager and a couple of childhood friends. They all tried desperately to get Amy to go to rehab and get clean, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. Viewers can feel the pain as these people recall how helpless they felt when they saw someone with so much potential throw away their lives.


The Dangers of Fame

The overarching theme of this documentary is the pitfalls of fame in the entertainment industry. Viewers learn from Amy that many talented musicians are private people with tortured souls, and in an ironic twist of fate, their one outlet for pain garnishes so much fame that it causes their demise.

It is a story that is all to similar to the other members of the 27 club, specifically Kurt Cobain. This documentary is drawing many comparisons to HBO’s recently released Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (check here for listings) for its authentic portrayal of the person behind the fame. Comparisons aside, the critics and fans have all agreed this heart wrenching portrayal of a musical icon’s rise and fall is a cinematic achievement in itself, with the film receiving an incredible 97% “Fresh” score from critics according to Rotten Tomatoes.

In a final note, the Amy Winehouse documentary makes the viewer question the fan’s role in the fame monster, which is something to ponder for every fan.

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