Amy: What You Need To Know
Ivor Novello-winning songwriter, Grammy Award-winning singer, force of nature; there are many words to describe Amy Winehouse, but hardly any that haven't already been written. In the eight years between the release of her debut album, Frank, and her tragic death from alcohol poisoning in 2011 at the age of just 27, Winehouse's star burned brightly, but all too briefly. In that short time she established herself as one of the most exciting raw talents in the music business, a brilliant but fragile soul whose relationship with drink and drugs led her to write chart-topping hits like 'Rehab', but also to her sad and untimely demise.
Her father, the larger-than-life London cabbie Mitch, had already received and turned down several requests from filmmakers hoping to be given the opportunity to document her life on the big screen, but when he was approached by Asif Kapadia, the man behind the award-wining documentary Senna that did the same for the Brazilian Formula 1 legend, he finally felt that he'd found the right man for the job.
After being warmly received in cinemas earlier this year, the film arrives in stores on Monday (November 2nd). Here's everything you need to know about it.
Who's in it?
The roll call of famous names discussing their experiences with Amy includes Mark Ronson, her producer of choice, as well as the likes of Mos Def, Jazz legend Tony Bennett, Pete Doherty and producer Salaam Remi. There are also more personal insights from those close to her, including her father Mitch and her former husband Blake Fielder-Civil.
What's the plot?
Being a documentary there's no 'plot' as such, but Amy charts the mercurial singer's life from her early childhood right through to her last days, documenting her life using video footage donated by her family and featuring much unseen archival footage of the singer talking about her life in her own words, as well as plenty of previously unheard material culled from recording sessions.
There are some insightful and even haunting moments, including a spine-tingling sequence in which Amy is recording the vocals for 'Back to Black', her voice isolated from the rest of the mix. It seems completely at odds with the media's portrayal of her, but there are some harrowing moments too, especially her final performance at a gig in Budapest where she slurs and staggers her way through her set, clearly under the influence and barely able to focus.
Does it deliver?
While the above means that Amy is difficult viewing at times, fans of the singer will no doubt find the documentary a pretty fascinating insight into Winehouse's life. Her father Mitch has voiced his disappointment with the film, claiming that it offers a distorted portrayal of his daughter, as well as casting him in a fairly poor light, but to be fair to Kapadia the subject was always going to be a sensitive one and he has to be commended for taking an objective approach. This is very much a warts-and-all account of her life and you can't help but think that's the way the singer would have wanted it; what really comes across in this film is just how authentic and genuine Amy Winehouse was, both as an artist and a person.
Given that it's probably those who are already fans who will have the most interest in the film, Amy will probably be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for some, but the archive footage and the unreleased material alone make this a documentary well worth watching.