Review: 12 Thoughts On Heartwrenching ‘Amy’

Amy Winehouse was a lyrical miracle. Turning heartbreak and daddy issues into infectious, chart-hugging songs, the late soul singer was in tune with her emotions.

In Amy, the Cannes Film Festival favorite directed by Asif Kapadia, her struggles play out on the big screen. As a paparazzi magnet who nursed her pain with drugs, liquor and a toxic relationship, Amy was a complex woman who loved hard despite watching her parents’ marriage crumble as a teen. She was bulimic at 14 but loved to goof around in front of the camera and strut out in F-Me pumps, eyeliner to the gawds and a beehive atop her crown. She wore her feelings on her tattooed sleeve.

Looking back on her 27 years of life, it’s the little and big things that made Amy Winehouse a pop culture enigma. Sadly, we all know how this story ends.

Here’s our 15 scattered thoughts on Kapadia’s Amy documentary, in theaters now.

1. Lil’ Amy already had big pipes. The film takes off in 1998, where a camcorder follows the 14-year-old North London gal singing a real rendition of the birthday song for one of our close chums, Lauren Gilbert. Consider this the lioness’ first roar.

2. Per her first manager and close friend Nick Shymansky’s suggestion, Amy began penning her own songs, employing bone-rattling lyrics like, “Understand once he was a family man/ So surely I would never, ever go through it first hand/ Emulate all the sh*t my mother hated/ I can’t help but demonstrate my Freudian fate” from “What Is It About Men?” At a time where manufactured pop artists were the industry norm, Amy was only concerned about keeping it real on the mic.

READ ALSO: Amy Winehouse Manager Nick Shymansky On How ‘Amy’ Doc Keeps It Real

3. Amy’s lyrics steal the show. Her 2003 debut Frank and 2006 breakthrough album Back To Black soundtrack the documentary as her curlicue handwriting glides across the screen, providing pseudo-captions for each stage of her life. Intimate recording sessions, like this clip of her laying down the title record “Back To Black,” are hauntingly beautiful. In between sips of brown liquor and cigarette puffs, Amy always said it with her chest.

4. Her musical relationship with esteemed producer Salaam Remi was golden. So much so that Winehouse had the hardware from the Academy to prove it. After inviting her to his Miami home to serve as her recording domain, Amy laid down Back To Black and later received five Grammys for the LP.

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