This Sunday marks the closing show for Amy at FilmScene. Amy presents a staggeringly somber and undistorted depiction of the late singer, Amy Winehouse, using primarily personal footage and archive interviews with family and friends. In many ways the film mimics the harassing fascination by the paparazzi that it simultaneously damns, often leaving viewers ashamed and uncomfortable by the film’s end. Some critics, like Ruby Lott-Lavigna and The Guardian, have cited this as intrusive and exploitative, though one is left wondering if that was the exact intention of director Asif Kapadia.
Working predominately in chronological order, we watch Amy evolve into the superstar that she became, all the while hearing her repetitive doubts about fame. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s no wonder that she became an icon of modern music with her charismatic presence and exceptionally distinctive sound. But as the movie comes to an end, we see her as a shadow of whom she once was, truly struggling with her addictions and self-doubt.
One of the last lines heard from Amy herself, “I really am a great singer,” should be the leading motivation to see this film. At times her personal life takes the forefront, though her musicianship and musical impact is certainly the main focus. The scenes revolving around her song writing and recording show her immense talent as well as the tremendous scrutiny that she inflicted upon herself.
The film offers an incredibly intimate view that sincerely documents a music legend. There is little celebration of the fame that Amy unintentionally achieved, rather focusing on the stress of notoriety that has claimed so many talented young lives.
Fair warning: Prepare for an emotional investment.