Review: Amy Is A Gut Wrenching Look At A Deadly Downward Spiral
One of my guilty pleasures is reading gossip websites. I know that they are very silly, and often pointless, but it’s one of those things that I find endlessly entertaining for all the wrong reasons. I was in the midst of reading these websites when Amy Winehouse began her slow downward spiral. I remember her ballet shoes being made fun of or when she was on the lists of people that weren’t going to last the year. I remember being very sad for her then and very angry that people were being so glib about someone so obviously struggling. When Amy did pass away in 2011 it was only then that people started being sympathetic. I was very interested in what kind of life a person would have to have lead to end up in that kind of downward spiral.
Amy takes a very sympathetic look to one of the great voices of the generation and how her long struggle with addiction eventually took her life.
I’m a person that generally enjoys documentaries even if they are about a subject that I don’t really have that much interest in. My interest in Amy Winehouse was more a curiosity about the woman behind the music that I thought was pretty good. Amy goes back to the beginning of Amy’s life as a child and how her parents divorce affected her. There were warning signs obvious to someone like me who has struggled with depression. There were several moments throughout the film that were truly gut wrenching. The one that continues to stand out in my mind was before Amy got into hard drugs her friends tried to convince her to go to rehab, but Amy wouldn’t go unless her Dad thought she needed to go. He said she didn’t and her friends say that they think that was the missed opportunity where they could have saved her.
The people around her didn’t really help, and Amy herself was self-aware enough to know that she couldn’t handle major fame. Amy heavily implies that if she hadn’t achieved the success she did then perhaps she wouldn’t have died. The movie relies a lot on various people talking over footage. Since this happened in the modern age there is a lot more footage than in older documentaries of people. It was also this use of technology that ultimately lead to the most toxic thing in Amy’s life; the media. The various outlets completely tore her apart for her addiction problems and even made comments about her bulimia. Amy makes sure that we are accurately aware of how much this impacted her downward spiral.
When I first saw the running time I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch over two hours of a documentary about an artist I was only tangentially interested in. While I enjoyed Amy a lot more than I thought I would say that the running time still felt a little long. The entire enterprise is extremely well put together and director Asif Kapadia obviously had a lot of respect Amy.
Amy paints a very real and sometimes hard to watch downward spiral of a great, young artist. This is a very sad film but one that goes out of its way to show Amy for what she really was; a victim of substance abuse who lost a lifetime battle.