Troubled soul, drug addict, victim; regardless of your opinion of Amy Winehouse there was no denying her extraordinary talent. And it is this, amidst the tragic drug fuelled performances and public breakdowns, that ultimately shines through when watching the Amy documentary.
I am sure that most reviews of this documentary will devote their words to Amy’s addictions, eating disorders, and that tragically turbulent ‘Sid and Nancy’ relationship. But despite the circumstances that led to her devastatingly premature death, for me it is Amy’s talent that deserves to take centre stage when looking back at her short life.
It becomes clear very early on that music was an inherent part of Amy’s make up. Unlike the legions of X Factor hopefuls that suffocate the charts of today, Amy was sadly one of the few true artists that have influenced the music industry in recent years. For her, fame and fortune were never the end game, something she is frequently overheard saying throughout the documentary. And though hard to believe the remark was neither disingenuous nor a calculated marketing ploy fabricated by over protective management.
Music was never a meal ticket. Music was a lifeline, it was a person with thoughts and feelings and her relationship with her craft was cathartic and turbulent in equal measure. Listening to Amy’s soulful voice as the lyrics to her life are etched across the screen, it became clear that her connection to music was still not enough to satisfy her addictive nature. That despite the cathartic release she sought her troublesome demons still reared their ugly head.
Yet it was through her music that Amy truly came alive and none more so than when standing next to her idol, Tony Bennett. It was as painful as it was beautiful to watch as she transforms in his presence. So vulnerable and impressionable much like a child trying desperately to prove their worth.
Sitting in plush cinema seats and sipping on coke it could’ve been easy to forget that the tragic story unfolding was in fact not a story at all. This was the actual life of Amy Winehouse, a real person. A life so sorrowful and misspent that it beggars belief.
Volatile, fragile, intense; just a handful of adjectives to describe the creative geniuses of our generation. And sadly it is often what makes them so special that cuts their life so short. It would be easy to point the finger of blame at Amy’s family or management team, the paparazzi or even the star herself but why? No amount of blame will bring back the brutally honest lyrics, or the unsung songs and unwritten albums of a true jazz star that sadly had to say goodbye to the world long before her time.