Should have gone to rehab

If there is one memory of Amy that burns brightest, it is of the late jazz-soul-pop star as a teen.

 

AMY

Director: Asif Kapadia
Cast: Amy Winehouse, Tony Bennett, Salaam Remi, Nick Shymansky, Yasin Bey, Mark Ronson
Rating: (M)
Four stars (out of five)

 

Clowning around with a couple of mates in her modest North London home, she augments the tomfoolery by providing an off-the-cuff burst of vocal brilliance that leaves her friends briefly silent.

Such home-spun moments are not overdone by director Asif Kapadia who, instead of force-feeding a message of a treasure lost, merely bears witness to Winehouse's artistry.

In doing so, he allows viewers to come to the same conclusion as those friends.

Kapadia's assured yet transparent film-making is not unlike the vocal technique employed by so many of Winehouse's heroes and heroines: step close to the microphone and the nuances become amplified.

The same could be said for fame.

Certainly, in Winehouse's case, she was personally and professionally unprepared for the great jump in popularity that followed her 2006 Back To Black album.

Kapadia doesn't simplify any message.

Winehouse's crossover from her beloved jazz into R&B-infused pop made her hot property sans borders, yet she was already struggling with bulimia and alcohol and drug dependency as well as relationship issues and, increasingly, hounded by the press in moments both low and high (no pun intended).

Sure, such fame was a jump too far.

But to focus on that at the expense of all the little steps in that direction would have been a gross injustice to a singer, songwriter and lyricist of rare ability.

- Shane Gilchrist 

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