Published on July 30th, 2015 | by The Beige Baron



amy_webIt is hard to come away from this documentary without feeling in some way, shape, or form complicit in the tragedy of Amy Winehouse’s all-too-short life.

The jokes at her expense, the Halloween costumes, the endless parade of photographs of her looking scared or angry providing magazine editors the opportunity to pontificate about just how badly she was wasting her life and her talents. All cheap fodder for a public that seeks to reprimand badly behaved women. To use them as cautionary tales of what happens if women step beyond their chosen limits or societal standards.

There are many villains of the piece, Amy seems to have been exploited by almost anyone who could exploit her. Her father Mitch comes off particularly badly, his own words and actions condemning him far more than the careful editing or comments by others ever could.

It is an impossibly moving film, but also a timely reminder that the celebrity industry thrives on victims.

Blake, the notoriously hideous husband trainwreck of an influence, also comes across as a simply terrible human being, one who seems incapable of remorse, or even genuine grief for the woman who was once his wife.

amy-winehouseBut much of this has been said, and discussed at length before. Here the director has chosen to make Amy herself the star. From early videos showing a cheerful cockiness, and just her general lust for life, much of what created such a sense of loneliness and incompleteness appears to have begun in her childhood, when her father left.

Amy is heard saying that after the age of nine (she was eight when he left) everything changed for her, illustrating a clarity and self-awareness of her own problems that many of the tragedy-narratives of her life deny her.

There is a moment, when she wins the Grammy for best album, when she just glows, like the bullied child finally picked to be on a team, or given approval.

B9317986819Z.1_20150707182943_000_G7IB9D2JT.1-0Those enormous eyes just widen in shock and she just looks so frail, so vulnerable, and so tremendously beautiful. What this film does capture is just how much Amy was loved, by people desperate to help her, but who became shut off from her increasingly reckless existence.

Money and opportunity won out over love and kindness, those responsible literally killing the goose that laid those golden eggs they so badly sought.

Modern fame is a monster; the Internet has only increased the need for endless pictures of celebrities. To see Amy hounded down the street, outside the prison her husband was incarcerated in, and outside rehab facilities, is just hideous.

imagesA person who loved and valued themselves would have to have a pretty healthy ego to survive, and it seems that apart from her bodyguard, who emerges late in the piece, no one really sought to protect her from herself, from the world’s judgment, from constant intrusion.

It is an impossibly moving film, but also a timely reminder that the celebrity industry thrives on victims. Amy simply didn’t fit the narrative of local girl with astonishing talent made good. She took drugs, fought and scratched, drank, had the audacity to say that her fame made her unhappy.

When men do this, the media does not punish them so mercilessly. Indeed it can add to their charm and charisma. But women are not allowed this privilege. And in Amy we see just how repulsive the effects of this denial can be.

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Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.

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