Film review: Amy - Asif Kapadia’s heartbreaking portrait of Winehouse
Documentary also shows self-destructive singer away from her celebrity image
Just the phrase “from the team that brought you Senna” should be enough to grab your attention: British director Asif Kapadia and his producer James Gay-Rees triumphed with their BAFTA-winning documentary about tragic Formula 1 racing driver Ayrton Senna.
But this latest portrait – of another star who died before their time, singer Amy Winehouse – surpasses even that.
Whether you loved her music or loathed her presence in the tabloids, Amy is a film that lingers long after you’ve left the cinema.
Kapadia goes behind the celebrity image of Winehouse – the drink, the drugs and the destruction that ultimately led to her premature death, aged 27, from alcohol poisoning.
Tracing her life from her days as a North London Jewish girl, via her stellar rise with records like Back to Black, it’s a compelling study of just how fame can corrupt a fragile soul.
Mining some remarkable archive footage, Kapadia also draws touching words from her friends, family and colleagues – from notably her manager Nick Shymansky to her husband, and partner in addiction, Blake Fielder-Civil.
It’s also a vivid portrait of the London music scene at a time when bands like The Libertines were playing in Camden dives, and Kapadia never lets us forget how rich and soulful Winehouse’s voice sounded.
But it’s the clips that really get you; Winehouse larking around on holiday or meeting her singer hero Tony Bennett. This is the real girl the world lost; not the emaciated creature hounded by the paparazzi. By the end, you’ll be in bits.
Amy opens on October 8