The film delves into the life and career of Amy Winehouse, beginning with her early days in the early 2000’s as a North London jazz musician and culminating in her rise to fame as a Grammy-winning singer with songs like “Rehab” and “Back to Black”.

Sam Taylor-Johnson has tackled addiction before in her films, another film was A Million Little Pieces in 2019, a film adaptation of James Frey’s notorious non-factual memoir of his battle with drug addiction. Taylor-Johnson however made Back to Black a poignant, affectionate, and deeply moving portrayal of the life of Amy Winehouse, the shining talent in the soul scene of London who succumbed to alcohol overdose at the young age of 27 in 2011.

“I want people to hear my voice, and just forget their troubles for five minutes” – Back To Black

This film, written by Matt Greenhalgh, carries unpretentiousness and even a somewhat down-to-earth perspective and tribute. However, it is captivatingly brought to life by a heartfelt and genuinely charming performance from Marisa Abela as Amy – even though it arguably smoothens out some of the harsh realities.

Back To Black

Marisa Abela’s performance was amazing, her voice is recognizably similar to that of Amy, plus her demeanor of speaking in interviews without a filter. In a scene set at 2008’s Glastonbury Festival, she gets down off the stage to totter close to the audience on high heels, almost daring the security guards to let her fall, her overall performance with many of Amy’s publicized outbursts, and drama she went through Marisa captured very well.

The script draws to many of Amy’s reasoning and its inspiration from her lyrics in Back To Black, and Black Fielder-Civil was the subject of this second and final album. But while the songs act as a musical-like narrative of her life, no time is devoted to showing us how she made them, but I guess at the end of the day the film is meant to showcase the ordeal of addiction, and its never-ending cycle of damage.

Back To Black

Amy was a simple person, yet complex and this film shows some of the reasons of what and how Amy spiraled into her addiction, from being too close to the pub scene, in terms of her performances, close to addicts as well as losing her grandmother who the film showed, had a tremendous impact on her not only in terms of her overall fashion, elegance but in terms of being there for Amy when she needed her most.

The film may tell us many things we already may know, but it does a great job doing so from Amy’s perspective, the addiction to her love for Blake, alcohol, and music. A tragic ending to one of the most promising musicians of our time.

Back to Black is out in cinemas on 12 April.


Back To Black is Rated 16 D L N P S

Back To Black

Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson

Cast: Marisa Abela, Jack O’Connell, Eddie Marsan, Lesley Manville

Rating: 16 D L N P S

Genres: Biopic, Drama

Screenplay: Matt Greenhalgh

Distributor(s): Universal Pictures

Music: Nick Cave, Warren Ellis

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