Amy

Asif Kapadia's new Amy Winehouse biopic, Amy, took three years to make, and comprised of over 3,000 hours of raw footage and interviews before the editing process began. As told through videos and interviews from close friends and family, the documentary follows a confident 14 year old Winehouse singing a soulful rendition of 'Happy Birthday' to three friends in a hallway, through the early stages of her career as a jazz singer, to her meteoric rise to fame and the personal struggles she went through during her life, such as bulimia and her well documented battle with drug and alcohol addiction.

Expect to be an emotional wreck by the end of it. We're shown the legendary star to be as much witty and wise as she was vulnerable and self-destructive. We're shown Winehouse pre-Blake Fielder, a very grounded girl with a deep understanding of her goals and how to achieve them - we're shown Winehouse during and after her toxic relationship with Fielder, including footage of her so intoxicated she can't hold her head up straight or form coherent sentences and pictures of the couple taking drugs together. We hear the heartfelt apologetic messages she leaves to her friends during the aftermath of her first drug overdose. Kapadia does the tragic singer's legacy justice by telling her story as it was rather than through sugarcoating it or depending on her father, for example, who relished the money and attention he garnered from his fragile daughter more than protecting her and ensuring she recovered from the illnesses she encountered throughout her turbulent and devastatingly short career.

What's so refreshing and beautiful about Amy is that, for the first time, she is represented for the person she was rather than the calamitous but naturally gifted junkie the media were devouring at the peak of her success. Her debut album, Frank, doesn't sound remotely like the glass-shattering, Grammy Award winning Amy Winehouse of the Rehab and Back to Black infamy: the reflective, intelligently crude lyrics that read like prose are the same, but her youthful innocence is juxtaposed with prudence beyond her years. The majority of people interviewed for the film comment on the powerfully moving abilities of her voice, even when she was in the midst of emotional, mental and physical turmoil.

It's a pleasure to watch her perform with Tony Bennett, a long-time idol of hers, and the star's usual brashness is shaken because she "doesn't want to waste his time". To see personal footage of Winehouse in St Lucia, where she stayed for six months to eschew from drug usage but succumbed to the alcohol on offer, is disturbing because it appears to be such a promising new start for her. As a viewer, it's distressing to see the many warning signals that should've been turning points for Winehouse, because hindsight is a cruel, cruel thing. Her own father (who left the family home when she was nine and was noticeably absent until her career kicked off) said she didn't need to go into rehab at the emergence of her addictions; there is no way of knowing what would have happened if she had, but I can guess that her life wouldn't have been cut so tragically short.

Amy is released to mainstream cinemas across the UK on Friday 3 July, and trust me, whether your'e a fan of her music or not, this is not to be missed.

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