Amy Winehouse (2024)

Amy Winehouse Review

Amy Winehouse

“What sort of fckery is this?” an iconic Amy Winehouse line made famous by her song “Me and Mr. Jones” might be the only question that director Sam Taylor-Johnson’s “Back to Black” raises. Marisa Abela’s portrayal of the Camden-bred superstar paints her as “just one of the girls,” down-to-earth, personable, quick-witted, and a sublime singer with a voice beyond belief when she opened her mouth. Addicted and subjected to relentless media coverage until her untimely death at 27 from alcohol poisoning in summer 2011, anyone who remembers Amy knows what kind of fckery was done.

“Back to Black” follows Amy’s life between the release of breakthrough album “Frank” in 2003 and titular movie blowup in 2006. However, don’t expect to learn about Amy Winehouse or even Amy Winehouse the musician from Taylor-Johnson’s film (penned by Matt Greenhalgh). This is about Amy Winehouse the addict, and it makes for an awful biopic.

If there’s anything that can be assumed about a music biopic drama film centered on any artist, it’s that it will be heavily music-based. While there are many performances throughout by Abela singing some of Amy’s most beloved tracks, they’re used almost entirely for soundtrack fluff and pity-party context rather than structural significance. They feel like backhanded reminders; we know she could sing but she was also just another emotional train wreck. The movie devotes hardly any runtime to actually making either album: We get very little context into her artistry; only minor bullet points like one guitar-in-the-bed writing session or cheeky Mark Ronson namedrop.

It misunderstands her legacy. This film does not allow unaware audiences access to her iconicness. It doesn’t show how much people from her hometown and country loved her, how they rallied behind her, or how that love transitioned when she became famous in the U.S. It doesn’t give any reasons for why Amy and her music were so beloved. It barely touches on any of her career. Instead, it just kind of plays like a montage of toxic romance, drug use, and impulsive tattoos.

Most of the onstage moments we’re shown either serve to demonstrate issues with sobriety or the longing sadness she feels while being away from or with wish-they-had-stayed-away-from her on-and-off boyfriend/ eventual husband Blake (Jack O’Connell). The one clip we see of the making of “Back to Black” is a moment where she’s tearfully recording the track “Back to Black,” looks into camera and says through tears: “he’s killed me.” Hard cut to a leap in time where Amy is throwing up bile after breakfast because now she’s deep into substance abuse. Not even its central focus addiction is given thoughtful narrative; it’s just something that happens offscreen. It gets treated with cut-to-the-chase quickness because we know it happens anyway.

Abela tries hard in this performance but only loosely captures any onstage mannerisms or idiosyncratic dancing that might have belonged solely to Amy Winehouse; there’s always an artifice at play here though, gesture is not essence. Even as well known as her voice was, Amy Winehouse’s charisma was almost equally so; Abela’s hollow copy and exaggerated accent put her out of depth trying to replicate them.

The film’s self-obsessed portrayal of Amy as a drug addict is not only offensive but also treats her problems and eventual death as predestined. Every time she reaches for a drink,whether it is a beer or a wine glass,the situation is staged like an ironic wink at the inevitable end. Right from the beginning, Blake is characterized as a cheating, sarcastic smooth talker who ruined other people’s relationships and broke his own heart because of this girl. Her father, though he may have been powerless in many ways, was not without fault according to simple biography alone; yet neither man is entirely culpable — what they did do wrong was ignore their own part in creating or worsening her vulnerabilities which does no justice to history’s truth. They present Amy as a naive mess who had no idea what she wanted from life while failing to make music central to it all even once why then bother making this movie?

When we look back on how pop culture treated Amy through 2024 eyes comparing our disgust with exploitation of her story by media and society-at-large to Britney Spears’ saga before vowing never again there seems reason enough for hope: death could be seen as an opportunity rather than failure when honoring Winehouse’s narrative becomes concerned. But Taylor-Johnson directs scenes where characters appear annoyed at relentless paparazzi following them around town; unfortunately, nothing changes about any other aspect surrounding these voyeurs’ lives either so there is still much left desired here too! And while she may scoff at sensationalism in some areas during filming such like those moments where we see through paps’ lens onto famous faces being chased down streets until caught up with there remains that terrible romance itself which kills off all energy within such stories given after its birthright has already been cried away somewhere along this sad tale line.Taylor-Johnsons predatory eyes refuse showing any compassion towards people suffering due addiction nor do they offer them any care whatsoever hence making music to seem only but a result of choosing pain over pleasure while depicting its protagonist as being nothing short pathetic.

“Back To Black” turns everything into nothing more than a series of binges and failed attempts at getting over heartbreaks, making Amy Winehouse’s life flat. It does not give her any power or humanity; instead it presents tragic figure who made an album which became iconic. Although one can’t separate drug addiction from the singer’s biography, it should not be all there is to say about her this approach towards storytelling disrespects personhood and neglects crucial elements that make up for legacy.

For those fans who truly care about her this movie is just too painful because they know deep down inside themselves what went wrong with everything around here while living through each day as if there might still be some hope left somewhere out there behind all those closed doors waiting patiently till dawn breaks again before disappearing forevermore into another night filled with dreams yet unfulfilled….

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