- Words Darcy Culverhouse
The first teaser trailer for the new Amy Winehouse biopic, Back To Black, is here and its already got the internet talking.
The new Amy Winehouse biopic tells the story of her “extraordinary genius, creativity and honesty that infused everything she did.” That’s what we were promised. However, the trailer has just dropped, and it proves otherwise.
Making a biopic about any superstar is a tricky feat, especially when it’s about the most gifted breakthrough British popstar of the 2000s, Amy Winehouse. A life flooded with media harassment where her darkest moments were only told—notably her drug use that plagued her later life and her rocky relationship with ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil – the fact that a film is being made about Amy raises numerous questions.
Titled Back To Black, the biopic is named after Amy’s most iconic album, which posthumously briefly became the bestselling album of the 21st century. Portrayed by Marisa Abela – best known for her role in Industry – the biopic is expected (by the synopsis of the film) to be “told from Amy’s perspective”, unravelling an “unapologetic look at the woman behind the phenomenon.” However, from the trailer, it seems we are only being shown a very small section of her life, that being her darkest moments, forgetting the brighter times that made her truly Amy.
Despite the trailer only being released just yesterday, it’s already turned the internet into a hot-headed frenzy. Fans of Amy are raising concerns about the biopic’s intentions, questioning the ethical decision to produce it in light of Amy’s right to autonomy. Moreover, friends of the late singer are taking to social media to express their fury regarding the choice of filming locations. Although receiving approval from the Winehouse estate, led by Amy’s father Mitch, the film crew controversially shot scenes of her drug overdose at Amy’s former north London residence, now owned by her father.
Not only did they use Amy’s old flat to recreate one of her darkest moments which led to her death at 27 years old from alcohol poisoning in August 2008, the crew filmed funeral scenes at the same cemetery where Amy is buried. A questionable stint, that raises questions of insincerity and respect for the singer, or perhaps speaks to the crew wanting to represent Amy’s story accurately and authentically?
Whatever disquiet might have been raised by making such a film, the team behind Back to Black are renowned to say the least. Directed by BAFTA-nominated artist and filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson—a close friend of Winehouse’s—she is joined by writer Matt Greenhalgh, whose previous credits include Control and Nowhere Boy, both acclaimed accounts of hit musicians Ian Curtis and John Lennon.
While we’ve only witnessed a brief teaser trailer, it seems sufficient to cast doubts on the decisions made by the film crew regarding the biopic. During the trailer, we only see Marisa (Amy) smile twice, as the trailer concludes with her shedding tears while singing into a microphone. What’s not to be forgotten is that Amy Winehouse was more than just her struggles; she was a pioneering figure in the UK, who brilliantly showed us her eclectic musical taste and remarkable vocal range, whilst she maintained her charismatic character. To the day, she remains a beacon of London and a shining light of Camden. Regardless of the biopic’s narrative choices, her multifaceted legacy should never be forgotten.