Amy was the fourth Academy Award nominated documentary feature that I watched this awards season. It is also the documentary that took home the prize. The film is rated R for language and drug material.
I remembered hearing Amy Winehouse for the first time when a coworker had purchased her CD and played the song Rehab for me. He said he liked it because it was so raw. I liked it too, but I now have a greater understanding of her music and I really, really like it. I love jazz and blues and this was her forte.
Amy was a British singer/songwriter with an incredible voice. Interestingly her idols were Tony Bennett and Sarah Vaughn. She came from a “broken” family, her parents separating early in her life. She seems to blame this for her subsequent alcoholism, substance abuse and mental health issues.
No doubt exacerbating her addictions was her meteoric rise to fame at a very early age. Barely out of her teens, Amy had a style all her own. I loved the way she did her hair in a beehive, her cat eyes mascara and eyeliner. She spoke what she thought and she wrote her life’s trials and tribulations into songs. The way she delivered a tune, her voice reminded me of Billie Holiday, another woman who had a troubled life and struggled with addiction.
Unlike the documentary about Nina Simone I reviewed earlier, where most visual details were from photos, Amy was filled with video footage, home videos and scenes of her everyday life taken off of her friends’ phones no doubt. It gave a very real and immediate feeling to the film, as did seeing her poems that became songs. I appreciated the visual aspect of this documentary, how it was pieced together, like piecing together the fabric of Amy’s short life, and I wholeheartedly agree with it being voted Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards. It’s worth your time.
Interesting that this year, 2016, two of the nominated documentaries had as subject matter, two very gifted female singers, and the two others I watched were about fighting for freedom, freedom from government control in the case of the Ukraine, and freedom from the drug cartels of Mexico in the other. This was a good year for documentary features.
Amy was a wounded young lady starved for love, starving her own body, betrayed by the disease of alcoholism, and finally used by those closest to her who didn’t want the cash flow to end. She lived on the edge until her heart gave out.
She was a Grammy award winner, and I both recommend Amy's music and this documentary. Her poetry shines through in her lyrics, sharing the pain and joy that all humans share. I am reminded of Jim Morrison, another victim of alcoholism, who also died at the age of 27. He was a poet too. Perhaps all the best songwriters are. Rest in Peace and in song, Amy, wherever you've gone.