Sometimes I’m a little late to the game. I can admit it.
Case in point – Amy Winehouse.
I’m not sure what moved me to watch her documentary on Netflix last night, but I did (and believe me when I say, I am unbearable when it comes to deciding what to watch). BUT I chose Amy, which was directed by Asif Kapadia and released in 2015. I guess maybe it was timely, cause the anniversary of her death was on July 23. She died in 2011.
She had an incredible look; even early on, she was a ham for the camera with a voice that stunned those around her. The documentary dives into all of this and chronicles when she started singing and recording, coming into her own. She was never short on opinions and wrestled with her fair share of demons. She had issues with her father who was never around when she was a kid and she suffered from bulimia which no one seemed to really take seriously. Heroin and crack could have taken her down, and it’s hard to ignore that the descend really starts to happen when she meets up with Blake Fielder-Civil, who really just comes off as a waste case, and later becomes her husband.
But it wasn’t the drugs; she was eventually able to get clean. It was alcohol. When they found her at the age of 27 in her flat, she was five times the legal drink drive limit in Camden, London. Vodka bottles were found all around.
The film is a peek into her life, into her inner circle, her beyond-her-time talent, voice and stage presence, her collaborations, friendships and relationships. For someone who never paid much attention to her before, I have to say, hearing her voice, watching her fill up the screen and clearly seeing the early seeds of her fame, it’s hard not to be star struck. She’s so soulful for a young white Jewish British woman and her lyrics are masterful and pointed, full of wit and spunk and grit, rolled up in tenderness. Lyrical genius literally crooning about the emotionality of love and life. The movie shows us some of her songwriting process and notes, complete with doodles and scratch-outs.
Plus that fucking eyeliner! #stylefiend
The film is also about how nobody seemed to be able to stop the circus around her. Some even seemed to add fuel to the fire. Like her father, who seems very self-serving. The culture of paparazzi and late night talk show hosts with their monologues making fun of her addictions didn’t help the situation. Just watching the camera following her around you can see how painfully vulnerable she is, under all that hair and makeup and bravado. It’s upsetting. Especially when she starts to blow shows because she’s not doing it to express her love anymore, it’s because she’s obligated and not able to help herself stay clean. She loses interest and that’s heartbreaking to witness.
And this song. WOW. JUST WOW. Cutting and breathtaking. This is obviously pre-beehive.