RAK­ING COALS FOR AMY

The doc­u­men­tary about the short life of singer Amy Wine­house is both heart­break­ing and at times un­com­fort­able to watch

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES - CAMERON ADAMS

Un­sur­pris­ingly, the new Amy Wine­house doc­u­men­tary Amy is full of tragedy, and not just be­cause we al­ready know how it ends.

One heart­break­ing mo­ment takes place mo­ments af­ter Wine­house won five Gram­mys in 2008.

The doc­u­men­tary shows the le­gal let­ter Wine­house had been given by her record com­pany to stay off drugs for the event, recorded in Lon­don to air live in the US, be­cause re­cent footage of her smok­ing crack co­caine had caused her to be de­nied a visa to en­ter Amer­ica. Stay­ing clean for the Gram­mys was a prom­ise she ad­hered to.

Di­rec­tor Asif Ka­pa­dia uses unaired footage that shows Wine­house call­ing her life­long friend Juli­ette Ashby back­stage af­ter her vic­to­ries.

Wine­house tells Ashby: “Jules, this is so bor­ing with­out drugs.”

Ka­pa­dia, who also made the ac­claimed Ayr­ton Senna doc­u­men­tary Senna, said it was a telling mo­ment about Wine­house’s per­son­al­ity.

“Amy had this dark­ness that made her get de­pressed and down. She would see the glass half empty. So in that scene you see her win all these awards and she still finds a way to bring it down; she can’t even en­joy it with­out any drugs.”

Ka­pa­dia spent more than a year try­ing to con­vince Wine­house’s fam­ily and friends to take part in the film; many were still griev­ing af­ter her death in 2011, aged 27, from al­co­hol poi­son­ing.

“Peo­ple hadn’t re­ally spo­ken to any­one about her or what hap­pened to her,” Ka­pa­dia says. “There was a lot of hurt.”

The in­ter­views were con­ducted with au­dio record­ing only and he se­cured cru­cial con­tri­bu­tions from her first man­ager, Nick Shy­man­sky (he bro­kered her record deal for her de­but al­bum Frank), and An­drew Mor­ris, her body­guard dur­ing her fi­nal years.

Af­ter ini­tially lend­ing his time and sup­port to Ka­pa­dia, Amy’s fa­ther, Mitch, has be­come a vo­cal critic of the film. One key scene shows Shy­man­sky tak­ing a pre-fame Wine­house to re­hab for heavy drink­ing. The de­fi­ant singer calls her fa­ther who said she didn’t need to go. Shy­man­sky pon­ders if early re­hab could have changed the singer’s life. Mitch Wine­house now says the film edited out the end of his sen­tence, where he said she didn’t need to go to re­hab at that stage.

“I beg to dif­fer,” Ka­pa­dia says of Mitch’s claims. “In the first in­ter­view, he didn’t say that. If you lis­ten to Re­hab, she didn’t say that. At the time he didn’t think she needed to go to re­hab, that’s what the song is about.

“The na­ture of the film is to show what was go­ing on at the time,” Ka­pa­dia says. “Peo­ple maybe got con­fused and started mak­ing de­ci­sions that didn’t seem to be the best for her. If they’re now un­com­fort­able with that, that’s part of the process of us un­rav­el­ling the story.”

One home video is par­tic­u­larly un­set­tling: Wine­house and her then hus­band Blake Fielder-Civil in re­hab to­gether, with her hus­band try­ing to get Wine­house to sing Re­hab on cam­era while in ac­tual re­hab, to par­ody the lyrics.

“It’s re­ally un­com­fort­able to watch,” Ka­pa­dia says.

Amy opens in cine­mas to­day

Amy takes a warts-and-all look at the tal­ented singer’s life.

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