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Film / Amy (2015)

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Amy is a 2015 documentary film directed by Asif Kapadia, about the short life and tragic death of British singer Amy Winehouse (1983-2011).

The film eschews some common documentary tropes like a Narrator or Talking Heads. Instead the entire film consists of stock footage clips of Winehouse—interviews, performances, and home movies. The footage is accompanied by commentary from Winehouse herself from old interviews, as well as voiceover commentary from her friends, business associates, and family members. The upward arc shows Winehouse's raw talent as a singer and songwriter making her a big star on the British music scene, with her first album Frank being a major hit. Depression and alcoholism start to affect Amy badly even as she becomes an international superstar with her second album Back to Black. Her unhappy relationship with husband Blake Fielder-Cecil is portrayed as one negative turning point, with her refusal to go to rehab because her father advised her not to, another one. Winehouse's substance abuse eventually leads to her death by alcohol poisoning in 2011.

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Not to be confused with the 1998 Australian film, Amy, or the video game, Amy.


Tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: Barely a third of the way into the film, Winehouse is admitting to drinking vodka first thing in the morning, while her friends talk about their failure to get her into rehab. Eventually she dies of alcohol poisoning, with a BAC four times the drunk-driving limit.
    Amy Winehouse: Alcohol is bad, kids.
  • Call-Forward: In an audio clip from early in the movie when Winehouse is first starting to get known, she says she's worried about getting famous, saying "I don't think I could handle it." She couldn't.
  • Descent into Addiction: A tragic Real Life example, as Amy Winehous is claimed by drugs and alcohol.
  • Disappeared Dad: Mitchell Winehouse was absent for much of Amy's early childhood and became absent for good when he finally walked out of his marriage when Amy was nine.
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  • Drugs Are Bad: Pictures of a dazed Amy Winehouse and her husband walking around in public spattered with blood certainly argue for this.
  • Hope Spot: When Amy gets clean for the Grammys that saw her win awards for Back to Black. She's sober and happy. She's back to binging a few days later.
  • The Ken Burns Effect: Used a lot with stills. One effective moment comes when her friends are talking about her breakup with Blake Fielder-Civil, and the Ken Burns pan suddenly freezes as they describe her alcoholic breakdown.
  • Mononymous Biopic Title: The rockumentary version.
  • Only Sane Man: Amy's first manager, Nick Shymansky.
  • Rockumentary: A sad one.
  • Sarcasm Mode: Winehouse was good at it. When an interviewer asks her if record industry people have tried to "mold" her, she says "Yeah, one of them tried to mold me into a big triangle shape."
  • Stage Mom: Stage Dad, in the person of Mitchell Winehouse, who comes off very badly, sponging off of his daughter's money and fame. In one scene Mitchell goes to visit his daughter—with a film crew that's recording his variety show.
  • Stock Footage: A whole lot of it, almost all of the movie. The only original footage are bits of B-Roll that accompany some audio-only interviews.
  • Strawman News Media: Many scenes of hordes of paparazzi chasing after Amy. It's suggested that media pressure helped drive her into drugs and bulimia.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Her husband Blake Fielder-Civil, who seems to lead her into drugs. When the couple go into rehab together, the person being interviewed suggests that Fielder-Civil didn't want Amy to get clean because she was his connection to getting high.
  • Visual Innuendo: There's a photo of Winehouse licking a pool cue.
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