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Love is a losing game, Amy?

La-compianta-Amy-Winehouse
Amy Winehouse – Ph. Asif Kapadia

A heart-wrenching, beautifully melancholic documentary from the very first scenes: fourteen-year-old Amy Winehouse, plump face, cigarette in her hand, a couple of friends all around as she sings “happy birthday” with her typical raspy voice… and it’s ever so clear that singing makes her feel filled and hollow at once, that right in there, in that tunnel of lights and shades of the presents, she finds her happy place.

Amy, Asif Kapadia’s documentary about the moving and broken life of the English singer, starts just like that, as the story of an ordinary girl, one with talent who writes and records her first demos without many expectations (“I just wanna sing” is the leitmotiv throughout the footage), a friend for a manager, a few concerts with a handful of distracted spectators. Private home videos show Amy before she became Amy Winehouse, going through her choices, opportunities and encounters that brought her to worldwide popularity. A docu-film that seems made of two parts, for how sharp the physical and existential change is before and after, where before it is all about full personal realization (her need for it, her enthusiasm inspired of jazz and her idols), and after is the realization of others (labels, managers, men…).

amy_winehouseThe footage picked by Kapadia for the documentary always feel unbiased, non-judgmental, with the speed and force to trace the path of a desperate, yet exceptional life with the intuition and courage of those who can recognize crippled hearts. There is no rhetoric from the director even when telling the story with ex husband Blake Fielder, but rather the intention of showing the couple for who they were: two adults still struggling with their childhood who alleviate loneliness together (“I fell in love with someone I would die for. I feel like love is somehow killing me”). The most unpleasant character may be Mitch Winehouse, Amy’s father; if love can be forgiven for some wrong choices or behaviors, it’s never acceptable for a parent to be opportunistic and uncaring (“My daughter’s fine, she can sing, she has to perform. We’re talking about millions of dollars here”). At the end of the documentary, when Amy seems to be finally recovering on Saint Lucia island where she was living for several months, away from drugs and happy, her father hurts her yet again showing up with a camera crew for a TV program (“I called you dad, why are they here?” are the desperate words that resonate as if coming from a little girl seeking her dad’s attention).

In the last scenes Amy’s corpse, wrapped in a body bag, is pushed on a stretcher out of her house. No comments to these scenes, again no forced deduction or judgment, only fans weeping in the silence of a residential area. And Tony Bennett’s words resonating: “Hang in there, Amy, you’re too important”.

A heart-wrenching, beautifully melancholic documentary from the very first scenes: fourteen-year-old Amy Winehouse, plump face, cigarette in her hand, a couple of friends all around as she sings “happy birthday” with her typical raspy voice… and it’s ever so clear that singing makes her feel filled and hollow at once, that right in there, in that tunnel of lights and shades of the presents, she finds her happy place.

Amy, Asif Kapadia’s documentary about the moving and broken life of the English singer, starts just like that, as the story of an ordinary girl, one with talent who writes and records her first demos without many expectations (“I just wanna sing” is the leitmotiv throughout the footage), a friend for a manager, a few concerts with a handful of distracted spectators. Private home videos show Amy before she became Amy Winehouse, going through her choices, opportunities and encounters that brought her to worldwide popularity. A docu-film that seems made of two parts, for how sharp the physical and existential change is before and after, where before it is all about full personal realization (her need for it, her enthusiasm inspired of jazz and her idols), and after is the realization of others (labels, managers, men…).

The footage picked by Kapadia for the documentary always feel unbiased, non-judgmental, with the speed and force to trace the path of a desperate, yet exceptional life with the intuition and courage of those who can recognize crippled hearts. There is no rhetoric from the director even when telling the story with ex husband Blake Fielder, but rather the intention of showing the couple for who they were: two adults still struggling with their childhood who alleviate loneliness together (“I fell in love with someone I would die for. I feel like love is somehow killing me”). The most unpleasant character may be Mitch Winehouse, Amy’s father; if love can be forgiven for some wrong choices or behaviors, it’s never acceptable for a parent to be opportunistic and uncaring (“My daughter’s fine, she can sing, she has to perform. We’re talking about millions of dollars here”). At the end of the documentary, when Amy seems to be finally recovering on Saint Lucia island where she was living for several months, away from drugs and happy, her father hurts her yet again showing up with a camera crew for a TV program (“I called you dad, why are they here?” are the desperate words that resonate as if coming from a little girl seeking her dad’s attention).

In the last scenes Amy’s corpse, wrapped in a body bag, is pushed on a stretcher out of her house. No comments to these scenes, again no forced deduction or judgment, only fans weeping in the silence of a residential area. And Tony Bennett’s words resonating: “Hang in there, Amy, you’re too important”.

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