DOCUMENTARY; 2hr 8min
DIRECTED BY: Asif Kapadia
Shooting star: Winehouse
At 16, Amy Winehouse, the North London-born singer-songwriter who died in 2011, aged 27, of alcohol poisoning, is playful, robust and vibrantly alive, mucking around in a home movie as she belts out “Happy Birthday” in her incredible, arching voice. That personal snapshot is part of a wealth of intimate material beautifully used by director Asif Kapadia (Senna) to illuminate Amy’s many quicksilver faces. By her early 20s, she is on her way, career-wise, and loving the creative process. Fame, per se, though, was never in her sights. “I don’t think I could handle it,” she says prophetically in 2003. “I’d probably go mad.”
Spined by galvanic, bluesy concert recordings and bolstered with promotional footage and interviews with Amy’s inner circle, a cracked picture emerges into which the rot of the spotlight begins to seep, personified by Amy’s push-pull bond with her father, Mitch. Her consuming adoration of her husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, is emblematic of a druggy slide that never stopped, but Amy’s relationship with herself defies simplification. Kapadia’s great gift is to scrupulously transport you into her fragile inner life, its trajectory as relentless as the harshest laws of nature.