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Return to the black review | The biography is the antithesis of Amy’s jazz strength

Back To Black, the Amy Winehouse biopic, is a waste of the talent and strength of one of the greatest British singers of our time.

Crazy, depraved, whore and drunk! These are some of the many adjectives that the press and public have used to describe Amy Winehouse, one of the most powerful voices of British jazz and R&B. The life of the girl, born in London, was told in the biographical film Back to blackdirected by Sam Taylor-Johnson, the same as Fifty Shades of Gray. But Johnson painted a fairy tale of Amy’s life showing her problems with alcohol and her lack of self-love, but leaving a lot behind.

The main one is the relationship with the family. Truth be told, daddy’s girl – as evidenced by her father’s girlfriend’s tattoo – Amy had immense admiration for Mitchell Winehouse (Eddie Marsan), but she grew up seeing him cheat on her mother countless times, which left her emotionally disturbed. Her relationship with her mother Janis, however, barely appears in the film, as if she had no relevance in her life as her daughter.

In Back To Black, Amy becomes a satellite of Blake.  (Information/StudioCanal)

In reality, this part of childhood and adolescence, including the bulimic disorder she developed at the age of 15, is left aside to focus on the star’s relationship with the problematic Blake (Jack O’Connell), her husband.

In the family unit, the only person who truly gains importance is Cynthia, his “nan”, his father’s mother and his great inspiration for life and style. She serves to give the audience a little more context and show Amy’s relationship with her Jewish faith. But when bad boy Blake appears, it’s all about their relationship.

Of all the addictions the British singer had, none were worse than becoming dependent on a sleazy, characterless man. If, in her personal life, Amy destroyed herself and gave in to a stray love, this also led her to compose the best pit songs ever heard and which, added to her voice as deep as that of someone who smokes two packs of cigarettes a day, shocked the public. UK and America.

Back To Black doesn't do justice to Amy's greatness.  (Information/StudioCanal)

Finding the right tone

The melancholic tone of the work suits the rainy climate that London offers, and the settings could not have been better choices: dark and smoky pubs. Characterization is also fundamental to transform the young dreamer into a compulsive depressive. And finally, another good choice is the way the plot tells how Amy’s tattoos looked on her body, without needing to explain the obvious.

But the successes end here, and if it weren’t for the good performance of Marisa Abela like the protagonist, the result would be even worse. Extras inside Barbiehe overcomes the lack of physical resemblance by masterfully portraying the singer’s faces and mouths and delivers what he can despite suffering from a mixed script.

There are shameful dialogues, and one of them occurs when her father asks her “do you do drugs?”, to which Amy replies “yes!”, and that’s it, a sharp cut takes the audience to another scene.

Marisa Abela is a good protagonist in Back To Black.  (CanalDivulgação/StudioCanal)

The editing also suffers from the timeline which is unable to withstand the passing of the years. One moment Amy is singing in a regional pub, the next she’s being harassed by paparazzi. It’s hard to understand how she became so famous. On the screen, in fact, she pours out all her strength as a woman and all her “girl power”. She says she’s not a Spice Girl, but she is Back to black She is nothing more than an unloved woman in her own right.

A film to say “no, no, no”!

As if all these frustrations weren’t enough, the film paints Mitchell as the great hero in his daughter’s life and even frees Blake from the guilt of being a scoundrel by giving him the opportunity to say that Amy is a burden in his path. At this point it seems like there’s no way to go wrong, but the ending is generic and empty, neither describing the singer’s relapse into alcoholism, nor showing her death.

If it weren’t for the songs that make up the excellent soundtrack, Back to black it would be empty of everything, and even for those who are passionate about biographies it is difficult to defend a story that says nothing about the person biographed. Far from resembling the excellent documentary Amyby Asif Kapadia, the work is a failed attempt by Mitchell to create a film that is his daughter’s legacy, in which he is the good guy, but in this attempt he creates the antithesis of the strength she had.


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Source: Terra

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