“It’s a bit upsetting at the end, isn’t it?”
I went to see the Amy Winehouse movie on a Thursday afternoon in Australia – 23rd July 2015 to be exact. And it was only upon arrival at the Nova cinema, in Melbourne’s well-heeled Carlton suburb, I spookily realised it was actually the anniversary of her death and ascendancy into the notorious 27 Club.
Four years on this is what I wrote on my then Facebook page:
I know films are made for maximum dramatic impact, and of course, the Winehouse story is a terribly tragic tale of undiagnosed mental illness and squandered talent, but I spent most of the film in tears.
Perhaps the Melbourne winter blues had got to me (how SAD) but I found the whole film pretty upsetting, though obviously deeply moving.
I was kind of missing America (I’d just returned to Australia from a three month summer road trip that took me through a dozen US states), but also most of my adult life was spent living in the Winehouse stomping ground of the London Borough of Camden, and so many familiar haunts flashed up on the silver screen that I may never see again.
I feel privileged to have seen Amy live, albeit briefly, before the rot set in. In early January 2007, she was the musical guest on an episode of the Friday Night Project, though to be honest I was in attendance chiefly because the then occupant of the Tardis, David Tennant, Doctor Who No.10, was hosting.
You Know I’m No Good was issued as a single the following week, and it soon became one of my favourite Amy songs, though I think Back To Black, cooly covered by Bryan Ferry recently, is unquestionably her finest singular achievement, a deliciously dramatic slice of melancholia taken from her sophomore set of the same name.
Illustrated through her songs, the album Back to Black portrayed a story of a suffering and insecure Amy who felt confused and often isolated. The entirety of the record centered around her acrimonious relationship with boyfriend and future husband Blake Fielder-Civil, who, as played out memorably in the title track, left her for another woman.
The infamous BFC became the subject of much of the lyrical content on the album such as the aforementioned You Know I’m No good. In the song, when she sings the line “There’ll be none of him no more. I cried for you on the kitchen floor” she places blame on herself and continues pining over him.
Amy thought if people began to dig a little deeper into her lyrics they would start to catch on to how hopeless she felt without love and security. As documented in disturbing detail in the film, the couple got back together in 2007 and divorced in 2009. Rebels to the end.
I tweeted about the Amy movie as I came out the cinema and mentioned how her dad Mitch doesn’t come out of it too well (understatement alert). And within an hour he’d started following me. Hmm. I guess there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? #amyfilm #27club
Originally published: Facebook, July 2015