Movie Review: Amy


5-time Grammy Award winner Amy Winehouse, described by the eminent Tony Bennet as “a true jazz singer”, rocked the music world with her sultry voice and panache for the road less traveled. With fans all over the world pining over her bluesy vocals, it’s no wonder the petite singer reached career peaks others could merely dream of.

Directed by the mastermind behind the 2010 documentary Senna, Asif Kapadia has once again pushed his virtuosity into play to create the heart-wrenching documentary Amy. The tragic tale of the ups and downs of the late singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse is bound in a film that burns to keep her spirit alive.

Embellished with hazy home videos that seamlessly flow into one another, the documentary delves deep into varied aspects of Winehouse’s life; her family, love life and her long-time relationship with substance abuse.


The documentary comes into focus with a young Amy Winehouse singing happy birthday, displaying her natural talent in its most unadulterated form. It then moves forward on an optimistic note, showing the then 16-year-old Winehouse slowly transforming into a professional singer.

With her first manager Nick Shymansky by her side, she was cast in the limelight in 2003, with the successful release of her debut album Frank. Henceforth, we start to see the rebellious streak of Amy Winehouse developing, and that’s when it all starts to go downhill.

A quick flashback into Winehouse’s troubled family life of separated parents and a cheating father defines the cause of the singer’s defiant nature as a child, which serves as a warning of what is about to come. True enough, the documentary meanders into a tumultuous middle act, full of Winehouse’s downward spirals.

A notable scene shows how the death of the singer’s paternal grandmother led to another substance abuse frenzy. It was eventually revealed that the singer not only suffered from depression from the age of 15, but also bulimia.


Slicing through the entire documentary were refreshing bursts of Winehouse’s soulful singing videos accompanied by handwritten lyrics. These act almost as reminders, that despite the whirlwind of troubles causing chaos in her life, she did have undeniable talent and made beautiful music.

Adding to the mastery of documentary is its cleverly orchestrated flow, showing snippets of Winehouse’s life in the form of back-stories to many of her chart toping songs. “Rehab” turned out to be a concoction of Winehouse moving into her Camden House in 2005 where she stopped writing music.

Substance abuse and a toxic relationship added to the equation and all led up to the singer being forced into rehabilitation, hence the explanation for her song. This style of decoding the singer’s cryptic lyrics throughout the documentary keeps the audience engaged and wanting to know what happened next.


Amy embodies the catastrophic tale of how a promising young talent with an old soul and a love for jazz could get caught up in the whirlwind of fame and narcotics – be it love, drugs or alcohol. What the documentary did manage to successfully do was give viewers an insight into the manic of what was happening in Amy Winehouse’s life and the clarity that came out of it – her music.

[xrr rating=4/5 display_as=textstars label=”Our Rating:”]

Tell us what you think of Amy in the ‘Comments’ section below!



Release Date: 27 Aug 2015

Runtime: 128 minutes

Language: English

Censorship Rating: NC16 (Coarse Language and Drug References)

Genre: Documentary | Biography | Music

Director: Asif Kapadia

Starring: Amy Winehouse, Mitch Winehouse, Mark Ronson