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AMY (2015)

SYNOPSIS: A portrait of iconic singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse. A pop star with soul; Amy's rare musical ability made her a star, while her chaotic personal life stole headlines. With rare interviews and never-before-seen archival footage, AMY takes us behind the headlines to reveal a prodigiously talented young woman whose life ended far too soon. With this film, the world will fall in love with the real Amy Winehouse and her music all over again.

Review by Louise Keller:
Amy is a powerful film. Like the lyrics of her songs, it's the personal nature of this fly-on-the-wall documentary about singer Amy Winehouse that makes it so special. The lyrics and songs drive the narrative as they encapsulate the essence of who she is. At times we feel as though we are intruding. We get to know her and become involved in her journey - her rise to stardom and her unraveling through alcohol and drugs. Asif Kapadia (Senna) scratches beneath the surface to deliver a stunning portrait of the Jewish girl from North London who loved to sing, although she never thought it would be a career.

Tracing the trajectory of Winehouse's life, Kapadia has meshed together never-before-seen footage with insightful interviews, talking to those who knew her best. The result is a glimpse of a charismatic woman with a unique talent; one with a pure relationship with music and a voice that rivals the great jazz singers. It is through her songs that her innermost thoughts are told. It's a glimpse of a glorious but tragic life that ends far too soon.

There's a moment in the film when Winehouse responds to a journalist's question about being famous, saying 'I don't think I'll be famous; I don't think I could handle it. I would go mad.' The truth of her words is so accurate that it's almost frightening. 'So common' is one way an interviewer describes her, referring to her lower class English accent. There is nothing pretentious or contrived about Winehouse.

There are many highlights and most include the music. One such moment is in the recording studio when Winehouse is recording a duet with Tony Bennett - one of her long time idols. She is clearly nervous and intimidated by the situation; Bennett reassures her, saying she is great and that he is not in a hurry. He compares her to the jazz greats like Billy Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald. It's a wonderful glimpse of Winehouse's vulnerability and the fact that she is unafraid to show it. As she sings, an inner beauty emerges - fluid, gutsy, confident.

The film canvasses Winehouse's eating disorder and her dependency on drugs and alcohol. Destructive behaviour and an inability to deal with the media feeding frenzy. Relationships with the loves of her life, her father, her oldest friends and the people with whom she works are also key.

It is a difficult film to watch for many reasons, but especially because we know the inevitability of where it is heading and fully understand the tragedy of it all.

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AMY (2015) (MA15+)
(UK, 2015)

CAST: Documentary with Amy Winehouse

PRODUCER: James Gay-Rees

DIRECTOR: Asif Kapadia

SCRIPT: Not credited


EDITOR: Chris King

MUSIC: Antonio Pinto


RUNNING TIME: 128 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 2, 2015; Perth: July 16, 2015; July 23: Gold Coast Arts Centre. National sneak previews June 26-28, 2015, with exception of Perth and Gold Coast.

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