Review of the 2015 Documentary Starring, Amy Winehouse,
Directed by, Asif Kapadia
When someone burns as bright as Amy, sometimes their flame is too intense to sustain itself. Inevitably they’re snuffed out, always blazing brightest just before they’re singed down to the quick, leaving nothing but an empty pang of ash and smoke in their wake. That was how it was with Amy. She tried to keep that wick alight, to stop from stuttering and fading. But in the end, there wasn’t enough left to keep her going. Isolated and alone, having alienated most of her friends and broken just as many bridges, she remained only a commodity. A musical novelty to her recording label. Their last-ditch attempt to exploit her notoriety, before cashing out, rather than getting her the help she so desperately needed. A stark illustration of what happens when money and fame matter more than people, or art or music, or sometime even our humanity.
There were no advocates in her corner those final days, no one left standing by the feisty singer, now sad and diminished; like a frightened little bird already fallen from the tree. With broken wings still flailing, she struggled valiantly to get up. Then failed once more, while everyone stood staring, gawking like vultures, at her futile efforts. All silent, except for ridicule, til finally they stopped, all their frantic fluttering. Wings now clipped, fell soft and limp as she quietly slipped out, and faded away.
One could argue she was too broken before fame to have ever survived it, and maybe that’s true; even if she’d received the help she needed when it mattered most. Certainly, the seeds of damage had been planted long ago. From her distant mother and absent father who left her feeling abandoned and alone, to the inability of Amy’s mom, and others, to set appropriate boundaries, even when she asked for them herself.
Her bulimia, announced as a great new diet discovery, that goes unnoticed. Dismissed by both parents as anything serious until long after the damage had taken its toll. Her years of bulimia probably what hurt her most in the end. And then the alcohol and drug use, her refusal to go to rehab. Her father, the one person who might have convinced her to go- encouraging her to skip it, letting her down so profoundly, yet again. This experience, of course, the subject of her first big hit and cataclysmic launch to fame, is even more ironic.
And then came Blake, her toxic obsession. Their romance, both volatile and codependent, fueled their drug abuse and excessive drinking. Two lost people spiraling out of control, an obvious ticking time bomb. One that Blake escaped and Amy didn’t.
Such a sad story, and much too quick an end to a voice missed but always remembered. Sweet dreams, dear Amy. Hope you’re singing with the angels now.