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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Movie Review - Amy

Amy (2015)
Directed by Asif Kapadia
***This film is currently streaming on Amazon Prime***

With the exception of two or three songs on my iPod, Amy Winehouse never really impacted my musical landscape.  Her gravelly marble-mouthed voice never really appealed to me despite her obvious appreciation of old-school jazzy Motown-y stylizations.  It also didn't help that her heavily scrutinized public life showed that Winehouse lived precariously when it came to drugs and alcohol and I have a tough time rooting for someone to really succeed financially who falls down that path.  Little did I realize how treacherous that road had become for Winehouse, the subject of Asif Kapadia's documentary Amy which delves into the tragic price the singer paid for her success, eventually leading to an early death at the age of 27.

Told completely through interviews with the singer and her close friends, home videos, and personal photos, Amy is a rather damning look at the perils of success.  Amy Winehouse was likely always someone who walked on the edge of addiction, but her success catapulted both the ease of getting drugs and her desire to take them.  When we hear that Amy uttered the line, "This is so boring without drugs" after winning the Grammy for her popular (and prescient) song "Rehab," it's both incredibly sad and incredibly enervating that her family -- including her husband Blake who was also dependent on drugs -- allowed her to travel down this path.  Yes, they tried to make her go to rehab (as her most popular song states), but they never pushed hard enough in part because they worried both about the stigma that would place on Amy and the loss of money from tours, albums, and interviews during her stint in such facilities.

It's not that Amy tells a story we haven't seen before -- I mean, I grew up in the era of VH1's Behind the Music which built its success on the seedier sound of the music industry -- but Kapadia never presents his title subject as a victim, martyr, or saint.  Sure, Amy may have been predisposed to this type of lifestyle thanks to her upbringing, but it doesn't change the fact that this is a touchingly human story.  Hearing Amy's own words describe the pleasure of addiction make her tragic end all the more poignant and those words she said after winning the Grammy -- "This is so boring without drugs" -- just resonated with me long after the movie ended.  Kudos to Kapadia for painting the whole picture, warts and all, because I think Amy's story is an important one to tell since it's one that is so easily malleable if people in your life give you the needed assistance rather than turning the cold shoulder.

The RyMickey Rating:  B+

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