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Today's RED Hearts Update: Entertainment

A Living Tribute to Amy Winehouse

7-24-15
By RED editor Amy Goldwasser, reporting from NYC on Amy, the movie of a true talent lost

Amy, the new documentary about Amy Winehouse, is the kind of movie you feel bad about recommending. Or at least I do. Because it’s pretty much guaranteed to break your heart. I’ll put it this way: During the end credits I thought I was crying a lot till I found my husband sobbing on my shoulder. He stayed like that till pretty much everyone else had left the theater.

So be prepared to actively miss Amy Winehouse once this unshakable, haunting movie makes you feel as if you know her. And then you lose her.

That’s the thing. You see her being so talented (that part we already knew), so smart, so funny, so strong, so much of a real person, someone so capable of getting her act together over and over again—that’s the revelation—that throughout the film, you keep experiencing relief. Oh, phew, she’s OK now. Then you remind yourself that this is a true story and you know how it ends.

Amy was a total jazz nerd. She wrote her own songs because she saw the limits of everything else out there—and besides, why wouldn’t you? She wasn’t afraid to tell it like it is in interviews, to make sure her music not only moved you but made you think or cracked you up. She had real friends, loyal and loving, who, at least for a while, could ground her in the middle of the surreal nightmare of her sudden stardom. She didn’t take herself too seriously.

Imagine this in a celebrity. It seems she was an extraordinary talent—who truly did not want the fame. It’s like she was missing the layer of narcissism that seems to be the key, a protective layer, to surviving a life surrounded by people who say nothing but yes to you, by paparazzi mobs who won’t let you walk down the street, by comedians who consider you fare game as a public figure and are free to cruelly mock your very personal struggles.

Amy not only made me admire her even more, but it made me think a little bit differently, more responsibly, more kindly, about what we assume and project—about what the world does—to celebrities. See this movie. Go home and listen to your favorite Amy Winehouse song and realize how deeply original and wise and enduring and unmistakably hers it is. And forgive me for making you cry on someone’s shoulder.

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