For Reel

Amy (2015)
July 14, 2015, 8:04 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Asif Kapadia
4 Stars
AmyIn Manhola Dargis’ review of Amy for the New York Times, she mourns, “What’s startling now is to realize we were all watching her die.” When Amy Winehouse passed away in 2011, it was treated as an inevitably–the usual rise and fall story, of excessive living catching hold of an impressionable young star. What is particularly disturbing about Amy is how clearly it recognizes the behavior of the world around her, from her enablers, to those who exploit her, to the public who delighted in cracking jokes at the mess she’d become. Director Asif Kapadia constructs a documentary out of archival materials to portray the woman with all her brilliance and charms, a quick-witted and strangely modest genius. When the film contrasts a clip of Winehouse performing on Jay Leno with a later clip of the comedian making a tasteless joke at her expense, it’s painfully easy to remember a culture that had held the artist up as their punching bag. But Amy isn’t merely designed to make one feel guilty about her mistreatment, but as a tribute to a woman with an impeccable talent at bringing her sorrow to the songs she wrote. There’s an uncomfortable irony in watching a film about the private life of a woman who was destroyed by being in the public eye, but Kapadia’s intentions seem pure–what one remembers from Amy is not simply the highly-publicized downfall, but the clips of her performances that span a decade of remarkable work.

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