Indiana Daily Student

'Amy' takes a masterful look at the life of a fallen star

Still of Amy Winehouse in "Amy." (Handout)
Still of Amy Winehouse in "Amy." (Handout)

Her name is often mentioned alongside Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin.

It belonged there, not because she died of alcohol poisoning at the age of 27, but because her talent was larger than life.

The immense persona of Amy Winehouse is captured in the eponymous documentary of her life, directed by Asif Kapadia.

Through “Amy,” the face in the tabloids is personified in an honest medium, a compilation of footage from Winehouse’s beginnings to her final days. It’s billed as “the singer in her own words.”

The adulation that comes with death often clouds the image of a person’s life, but “Amy” brings clarity to an artist whose talent was matched only by her ?addiction.

Perhaps it was more of Amy than she ever wanted us to see.

Winehouse repeatedly expressed her aversion to fame. She aspired to sing in intimate jazz clubs and said fame would “drive her mad.”

And yet, through the blinding myopia of the paparazzi’s eye, fame chased her to brink.

It’s no coincidence “Rehab” was her hit single. Amy sang what she knew. Her lyrics were rarely veiled or cryptic, and that authenticity made her music captivating.

When Amy sang, “if my daddy thinks I’m fine ... I won’t go, go, go,” that’s what happened.

Amy’s father, billed as the anti-hero of the film, said she didn’t need to go to rehab the first time her drinking got out of hand, despite the concern of her management team.

Though the film’s objectivity is questioned in regards to his paternal relationship, “Amy” is a provocative exegesis on ?celebrity.

Snippets of video don’t tell the whole story, but it is clear for Amy being famous wasn’t an ambition, it was an obligation.

One of the most telling signs comes from an interview with Mos Def, a friend and fan of Amy’s.

The hip-hop artist remembers Amy confiding in him, the night after she won Best Record at the Grammys, along with four other awards, she didn’t know how to be the person she was supposed to be.

It isn’t surprising someone so self-aware craved escape from public dissection.

The derisive commentary following Amy’s last live performance in Serbia — in which the singer appeared inebriated on stage and refused to perform — is cringe-worthy.

Hosts who had her perform on their shows flipped on a dime and made her a punch line.

It’s as if the media forgot they were talking about a human being, and it’s ?something we forget often.

John Koenig, author of “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows,” coined the word ‘sonder’ — the realization each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own.

It’s a realization many of us need to have, especially when it comes to celebrities.

Amy’s musical genius was a gift, a gift she never stopped paying for, because her art was the door that opened the world to her problems.

The invisible price tag of fame was her dehumanization, the peddling of the intimate details of her struggle with bulimia, alcoholism and drug addiction.

Though “Amy” is a masterful work — earning a 97-percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes — its mere existence antithetical.

Would Amy have liked her story, her personhood to be owned by millions?

I can’t honestly say she would have.

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