A new documentary about the life of Amy Winehouse is set to hit theaters on July 3. The film is called Amy, and it explores the singer/songwriter’s struggles with depression, drug addiction and fame. It is no secret that Winehouse led a precarious lifestyle, she was a constant fixture in tabloid headlines during the last few years of her life. But this documentary works to portray the artist in a more intimate light.
Director Asif Kapadia uses rare footage and interviews to show how Winehouse used music as an outlet for coping with mental illness. She wrote all of her own lyrics, which often express deep sentiments about relationships and the confines of femininity. The film also suggests that Winehouse’s public image as a tragic train wreck unfairly overshadowed her enormous artistic talents. For example, listening to her sing the hit soul song “Tears Dry on Their Own” in an intimate setting truly underscores the power of her musicianship.
In an exclusive interview for the film, Winehouse says that she was grateful to have her guitar as a way to sort through sadness and other overwhelming emotions. She points out that a lot of people battling depression aren’t able to do that, so she felt lucky. The intention of the documentary seems to be to remind viewers that Winehouse was more than just a hair-do and dramatic eyeliner.
Amy Winehouse was a troubled rising star in 2008, when she won five Grammy Awards and was already struggling to keep her drug addiction out of the public eye. She died in 2011 at the age of 27. One claim put forward in the documentary is that her cycle of destructive behavior was enabled by close family members, such as her father and her husband, who at least once encouraged her to stay out of rehab in order to continue touring. “This is so boring without drugs,” she confides to a friend in a never before seen clip.
“We didn’t want to make a whitewashed version,” Kapadia said in response to objections from people who are unfavorably portrayed in the film. “All the evidence I collected pointed toward certain people who probably could have helped and changed things.” The Amy Winehouse documentary will open in select cities on July 3, and then nationwide on July 10.