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Back to Black review – woozy Amy Winehouse biopic buoyed by extraordinary lead performance | Back to Black

TThe last time Sam Taylor-Johnson directed a film about drugs was 2019’s A Million Little Pieces, based on James Frey’s notoriously inauthentic memoir about addiction – and the last time she directed a film about a music legend, it was Nowhere Boy in 2009, about John Lennon.

Now she brings the two together in what is arguably her best work to date: an urgent, warm and heartfelt dramatization, scripted by Matt Greenhalgh, of the life of Amy Winehouse, the brilliant London soul singer who died alcoholic poisoning at the age of 27 in 2011. It is a film with the simplicity, even naivety, of a fan-tribute. But there is a thoroughly engaging and gentle performance from Marisa Abela as Amy – while arguably stripping away the rough edges. The only time Abela isn’t very convincing is when she has to fight on the streets of Camden, north London.

And Jack O’Connell is a coldly charismatic and muscular presence as her evil husband and addiction enabler, Blake Fielder-Civil. O’Connell can’t help but be an intelligent and competent on-screen presence and makes Blake much more likeable and less of a pest than he was in real life – and yet part of the (reasonable) point of the film is that he was a human being. , fearing that Amy will leave him for another celebrity, and that the media images will be misleading.

There’s a lovely, if slightly sucrose, scene in which Blake, already drunk, first meets Amy in The Good Mixer pub in Camden Town (already famous for its association with Britannia and 90s cool Blur) – buzzing of his horse racing winnings and with lightness. unfazed when Amy, already fascinated, challenges him to a game of pool while he brazenly lets her (and us) assume he doesn’t know who she is. But of course he does and even surpasses her in musical knowledge by forcing her to admit that she has never heard of, nor heard of, the leader of the Shangri-Las pack, who he puts on the juke- box and mime wildly. There is a growing sadness that this first ecstatic meeting is the first and last time they will be truly happy together.

Marisa Abela and Jack O’Connell as Amy and Blake in Back to Black. Photography: Landmark Media/Alamy

Perhaps any film about Winehouse will suffer in comparison to Asif Kapadia’s fascinating 2015 archival mosaic documentary Amy, which delivered on the woman herself and also gave a clearer sense of her musicality and his demanding professionalism, far from the tabloid caricature of incessant drugs. But this film attempts to understand the role that romance played in Amy Winehouse’s life and the tale of woe it created in her work: a poisonous source of inspiration.

And Taylor-Johnson’s film is also much more sympathetic toward Winehouse’s father, Mitch, Amy’s mother’s estranged taxi driver who came back into her life to help her manage her career and who advised her against it. to go to rehab.

Eddie Marsan and Lesley Manville in Back to Black. Photography: Landmark Media/Alamy

Mitch comes across better here because he’s played with bullish charm and schmaltz by Eddie Marsan – very funny in the scene where he infuriates Amy by coming to an important meeting and siding with the record industry executives against her . In fact, I wonder if an equally good movie called Mitch could be made simply about this lonely and complex character.

Back to Black is essentially a gentle, indulgent film, and there are other, harsher, darker ways to bring Winehouse’s life to the screen – but Abela conveys her tenderness, and perhaps in the most poignant from all his youth, so clearly at odds with this harsh image and strangely mature voice.

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News Source : www.theguardian.com

Eleon

With a penchant for words, Eleon Smith began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, Smith landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, Eleon also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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