When the trailer for the new Amy Winehouse documentary, by director of award winning film Senna, dropped, I dare say I dropped a few tears watching it.
It was shown at Cannes and since then has come under fire from Amy’s father Mitch, for presenting a skewed version of the last three years of her life.
Critics, however, responded very positively, with reviews claiming the film will break your heart, but also make you angry— a feeling Kapadia has said he was trying to evoke.
Here are one super fan’s first impressions of the trailer…
You hear her before you see her, which we’ve heard was often the case when she was out on the town, that fish wife hollering.
But in this case, it’s that wonderful singing voice, echoing that one final, haunting word from what is probably her most well know hit, against a background of—you guessed it—black.
The opening shot of Amy is one of her in the studio, wrapping that track, casually dressed.
“Ooo, it’s a bit sad at the end, isn’t it?”
Talk about an understatement.
But, with the irony that comment would take on unbeknownst to her, this is a girl just having fun, at work as much as she did at play. It’s a girl that pops up at other times throughout the trailer, sticking out her tongue playfully, glowing and smiling up at the sky.
And it’s a girl we’ve forgotten. All the facets of her character:
Childhood Amy makes an appearance, seemingly in a strop with her parents, showing the stubbornness and waywardness in her character that had obviously been there all along.
“Utterly authentic”, as she is described succinctly by one commentator— one of the hundred and fifty people Kapadia spoke to who knew Amy best. I am interested to see who will else will—or will not—be in that number.
We all know Mitch, her father, wasn’t the biggest fan of some of the company she kept, like Pete Doherty.
Then there's Russell Brand, who is never short of words on the subject of addiction and who also befriended Amy.
“One of the truest artists I ever saw,” Tony Bennett says of her. A talent that often takes a backseat to her troubles, but is brought back to the forefront here with her in her natural domain, strumming guitar as well as singing.
“The most intelligent person I knew, " proclaims a friend.
Her humility, as clearly seen in her stunned face as her Grammy win is announced and her casual shrug as she receives it, the loving daughter hugging her parents.
These gracious qualities faded into the background on the world’s big screen of the media, leaving us with just the bits that made a juicy story.
The resigned eye roll as Amy struggles through a storm of photographers to get into the back of her car helps us to see that she thought her life had become just as ridiculous as a lot of onlookers did:
“The world wanted a piece of her.”
But there’s actually very little footage of the destructive, ‘druggie,’ or angry Amy here taking on paps and suchlike (I think there may be more in the feature film)—the two dimensional caricature we’ve been sold. And it’s refreshing.
There are intimate, stolen moments with her husband, her “Blake”, above which we hear what sounds like rapper Nas, who she worked with, saying that she was “just a girl that wanted to be loved.”
Also, her comparing her love for Blake to a drug:
“I fell in love with someone I would die for—and that’s like a real drug, isn’t it?”
Maybe alcohol and class A substances were not all she was addicted to, a conclusion which will come as no surprise to anyone who understands the illness of addiction.
By the time we get to Amy’s perspective, she’s in full-on meltdown mode, swigging from her ever present plastic cup of booze on stage in front of thousands, and slamming it down with defiance.
“This is someone who is trying to disappear,” says another detached voice, most likely one of her backing band, who she was very close to, as evident by the scene of her walking through London streets, holding and swinging hands with them, childlike.
For many addicts, that is the aim: not to hurt people, not even necessarily yourself, but to escape completely into nothing.
In adolescence, were introduced to shy Amy, hiding under a duvet from cameras, much like she hid behind the hairdo that became such a part of her persona.
With said hairdo in place of a simple ponytail, she reflects the scene in the car with the duvet when she is shown on the red carpet, looking down, away from the flashing cameras.
This is very much in line with a person who is not looking for or even expecting fame so much as looking to share their creative talent:
“I’m not a girl trying to be famous: I’m just a girl that sings.”
Yes Amy—and you were so much more.