Took myself to see ‘Amy’ last night and holy hell I am glad I did. We all ‘saw’ what happened to her, but the film reminds us that her name was Amy Jade Winehouse and she was a beyond talented, but tormented person who died at 27 years old. Amy was no saint, and the film doesn’t attempt to romanticize her spiral, but even in the darkest moments you sense her quiet, dwindling spirit. An outnumbered force trying and failing to slip through the confines of a disease that visibly steals the light from her eyes… There is a scene that is merely Amy taking a video of herself a few months before her heart stopped where you can physically see the spark in her eyes has gone. It is one of the most jarring things I’ve seen on film. It is THAT obvious. She didn’t stand a chance.
The madness and vulture-ification of Winehouse [one so undeniably plagued with addiction yet still steered into the spotlight that ultimately fed into every demon she’d half heartedly tried to suppress] should not be something we watch while eating popcorn. But we do. And we did. We watched her life play out on the cover of magazines. We live in a world where its socially acceptable to make jokes about addiction and mental illness but not talk about it. Or make help readily available and affordable to them. Take away the shame we’ve bestowed on even admitting when we have a problem. We watch a woman go from a strong, sharp-witted maverick to a teetering, paranoid skeleton. Who [for all intents and purposes] only wanted to fall in love with someone the way she had fallen in love with music. If she could have had just those two things to herself maybe there wouldn’t have been a film.
But there also wouldn’t have been ‘Back to Black’, an album that she one hundred percent made instead of go to rehab… Per her Dads assurance that she was ‘fine’ when her first manager begged her to forget the deal and take care of herself rather than record. [He then quit when she backed out of going, her father hired new mgmt].This is all shown and discussed in a way that was so eye opening and heartbreaking I can’t begin to imagine what her father was thinking basically sending her off to walk the plank and hope for the best. We all know how that road ended and we all know that there is not a speck of hope at the end of a plank. Its certain and its narrowing. Up until the bitter end.
The whole tale, though cautionary, is also inspiring. We’re all still lucky enough to have woken up today which is a gift so many addicts have stripped away from them. To me, this film helps humanize and deconstruct addiction by chronicling the ultimate price. Perfect she was not, but she never pretended to be. She, like many others, just needed the ability to get to the other side. To gain perspective. Some do. Some don’t. This is the result of one woman’s losing battle with demons so many of us face. I would strongly recommend taking the time to know and learn from her story. Not just for her legendary voice, which she already gave to us and wanted back, but for the woman she was, is, and could have been. When the movies over you have one thought: “What if?”