The “Back to Black” protagonist and the heroine of the documentary “Amy” had posthumously grabbed another distinction. This time – the Oscar, despite the fact that she has never been a performing arts representative or cinema actress. On the contrary, Amy Winehouse has remained in our collective memory as a jazz singer with an incredibly powerful low-key voice with a profoundly touching timbre and … her remarkable stage stiffness. The film presents a moment of glory for the gifted singer when she outrivaled Beyoncé, Rhianna and Timberlake by conquering five Grammy Awards in 2008. Her immovable, statue like stage performance, her image – an icon of the 60’s, her brand beehive wig – a natural crown adornment, her unique protection; projected an aspect of dignity and was a far cry from the permanently fiercely nude and glittering, sweaty, oily and luring with the beasty Amazonian convulsive, electrified barbaric dances of those stage rivals.
The 2h and something film is not about the creative throes of an unrecognized or discriminated genius, but about the exceptional persistence in destructive fits of an overall normal girl. I watched a visual support for the stages in personality ruin and decomposition, the psychological consequences, the ravages fraught by drug addiction and alcohol dependence. That was not a case of affirmative action or anti-positive or whatever social phenomena we could report in connection with such cases. That wasn’t either the case of being isolated or left without social support, abandoned, forsaken by family and friends; that was the case of defective, uneducated, deliberate bad choices.
What was revolting, for me, while following the unwinding of the film and the singer’s accession to recognition by her guild, to the musical Parnassus – was that her fall happened namely on attaining her perfect self, the best of what she could reach in terms of physical appearance: Amy used to be fat in her early years, adolescence and youth, versus her canonic wasp waist at 27 – an objective proof that she could make sustained efforts if she wished something badly. Her grown rebelling hair was in itself a nice ornament for a Jewish descendant, the stylistic option for that beehive bun with the Afro embracing locks, have consecrated her, creating her unique brand style. Moreover, she conquered the souls of a global audience, she was greatly popular, with an army of fans who sincerely loved her, imitated her brand bun and the paparazzi tentacles inevitably gauging on her every move and breath. She sabotaged herself with a bouquet of overdoses and respiratory disease; in her grips with the cocktails of illegal drugs dependence; as doctors termed it “binges” an alternation of clean, brief periods of abstinence; followed by wrecking, painful increasingly more frequent and more prolonged periods of relapse; lead to giving her a status of a chronic outpatient torn between rehab and inhuman efforts of leading a normal sane existence. The apex of her fall however, was the Slovakia Coachella type festival when I remind it well from the media, we witnessed a completely dehumanized image of an insensitive, unconscious, unaware drug addict booed by the masses, lampooned in the media, that was her definitive crash she had never ever after overcome.
The film’s value consists in namely zooming in on a not an anomalous case of diabolic effect of fame and money. The kernel element – the talent of the young singer was not denied, but it was highlighted the futile wasting of it.
Amy was charged throughout the film with not grooming, neglecting her singing talent, her unique voice was not cultivated. The question from a show moderator strikes in like an accusation – “Why not take some classes of elocution” at which Amy carelessly, all smiles replied, that she had, but everything had flown with her evocative hand wave gesture – down the drain. She was denigratorily called the “cook” as it came like an echo rumour from the interviews of her entourage – the team who worked with her professionally, another reference not to her culinary skills, but to her perseverence in preparing the injection drug. She looked guilty, caught in doing something wrong in her rare moments of sobriety recorded by close-friendly cameras; or absolutely did not care what she looked like, how she smelled, what shocking impression she produced for the chance passers-by, or public who intentionally sought encounters, either due to their adoration for her or because they were preying for her failures. She did not receive the much needed stimulation, she was not inspired by the vertical heroes.
Another question that passes through the film was whether she was aware, conscientious of her talent, of the value of it and consequently – responsibility that ensures. The question, from my point of view had not been answered. Her stupid, I point it down, not tragic but inglorious, shameful, dishonorable death is an answer.
Well, from another 40 min documentary about Amy we find out that the post-mortem coroner’s and legal medicine attempt to give the public a justification sounds like some futile effort to disculp her: the level of alcohol was four times higher than the limit, illegal drugs have not been detected in her blood, the prescription drug – she was mimicking a struggle with her addiction – had a minimal presence all this in aggregation with her longtime substance abuse and the accumulated health problems, still could not produce a lethal ending. Her mental disorder – the undiagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder could have been caused by some unhappy event, the doctors still look for a culprit while the answer can be detected by a virgin eye from the medical perspective – a STAR squashed under the burden of fame and a practice of self-destructive habits.