Wine­house doc­u­men­tary ‘Amy’ is a hor­ror film where celebrity is the mon­ster

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - BY JAKE COYLE THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Asif Ka­pa­dia’s Amy Wine­house doc­u­men­tary “Amy” is a slow, tragic zoom out. It be­gins with the in­ti­macy of home movies and ends in far-away pa­parazzi footage. Our VIP ac­cess has been re­voked.

First seen as a bright-eyed 14year-old girl singing a knock­out “Happy Birth­day,” Wine­house grad­u­ally re­cedes from our view as her renown grows, ob­scured by a bliz­zard of flashes and a dead­en­ing haze of celebrity. Fame ar­rives like fate: a des­tiny fore­shad­owed by Wine­house’s self-ev­i­dent tal­ent and her own omi­nous mis­giv­ings. “I would go mad,” she says of fame be­fore its tidal-wave ar­rival.

“Amy” is an ex­cep­tional, emo­tional por­trait of a pop star who per­ished too young. But it is, more broadly, a clin­i­cal case study of celebrity’s crush­ing on­slaught and an in­dict­ment of its tabloid ap­pa­ra­tus. It’s a hor­ror movie.

The in­gre­di­ents of Wine­house’s swift demise (she drank her­self to death at age 27 in 2011), as seen in the film, are many: a bro­ken fam­ily, her own self-de­struc­tive­ness, a lack of timely in­ter­ven­tion. But most haunting is the film’s close-up of a toxic celebrity cul­ture where out-of-con­trol ad­dicts are merely punch­lines for late-night hosts.

Ka­pa­dia, a Bri­tish film­maker who started in fic­tion film, es­chews talk­ing heads. His tremen­dous doc­u­men­tary “Senna,” about the For­mula One racer Ayr­ton Senna, who died at 34, re­lied en­tirely on archival footage, and he’s done the same with “Amy.” It’s an el­e­gant, un­clut­tered ap­proach that main­tains close­ness with the sub­ject and gives “Amy” an un­bro­ken drama.

Both films re­place ha­giog­ra­phy with ev­i­dence (archival video, au­dio tes­ti­mony, even old voice­mails), but the pu­rity of Ka­pa­dia’s es­thet­ics shouldn’t be mis­taken for per­fect ob­jec­tiv­ity. He and editor Chris King have point­edly, ex­pertly as­sem­bled snap­shots of Wine­house’s life to lend a par­tic­u­lar view of it.

Wine­house’s fam­ily - es­pe­cially her fa­ther, Mitch - have pub­licly de­nounced “Amy” as “mis­lead­ing.” That, though, should be taken as a good sign of Ka­pa­dia’s in­de­pen­dence in mak­ing “Amy.”

The film is dis­arm­ingly in­ti­mate. There is Wine­house, an as­pir­ing singer, play­ful and flirty in the back­seat of a car, goof­ing around with friends and a video cam­era.

The rise of this in­sanely charis­matic Jewish retro-soul singer from North Lon­don seems a cer­tainly to all who en­counter her. The voice, smoky and soul­ful, is un­miss­able. “A charmer,” de­scribes Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), im­me­di­ately in­fat­u­ated by “a sweet­heart” who could drink any­one un­der the ta­ble and roll a smoke.

There may be some­thing a tad cal­lous in seek­ing blame among those she loved and who loved her, four years af­ter Wine­house’s death. Black-and-white vil­lains rarely suit such tragic sto­ries. But “Amy” is a clear-eyed, deeply em­pa­thetic view of Wine­house, whose huge tal­ent and sud­den fame made too many for­get she was still just a vul­ner­a­ble young woman in se­ri­ous need of help.

Run­ning time: 128 min­utes. Three and a half stars out of four. Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDow­ell, Lee West­wood, Vic­tor Dubuis­son, Thongchai Jaidee, Dar­ren Clarke and Paul McGin­ley are ex­pected to com­pete. From Paris. (Live) (3:00)

Play­ers ex­pected to com­pete in­clude Tiger Woods, Bubba Wat­son, Pa­trick Reed, Louis Oosthuizen, Bill Haas, Webb Simp­son, John Daly and An­gel Cabr­era. From White Sul­phur Springs, W.Va. (Live) (3:00)

Play­ers ex­pected to com­pete in­clude Tiger Woods, Bubba Wat­son, Pa­trick Reed, Louis Oosthuizen, Bill Haas, Webb Simp­son, John Daly and An­gel Cabr­era. From White Sul­phur Springs, W.Va. (3:00)

Play­ers ex­pected to com­pete in­clude Tiger Woods, Bubba Wat­son, Pa­trick Reed, Louis Oosthuizen, Bill Haas, Webb Simp­son, John Daly and An­gel Cabr­era. From White Sul­phur Springs, W.Va. (3:00)

AP PHOTO

In this hand­out photo, Bri­tish Singer Amy Wine­house leaves the City of Westminster Mag­is­trates Court in west Lon­don, where she faces a charge of com­mon as­sault over an in­ci­dent at a char­ity ball.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.