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The Amy Winehouse biopic is getting some more negative traction after the trailer

The Amy Winehouse biopic trailer has dropped, and nobody is sure what to think

‘Hard pass. Rather remember her through her music’

The trailer at the Amy Winehouse biopic Back to Black has been revealed, and nobody is too sure what to make of it.

Due out in Spring 2024 and directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, it stars Marisa Abela as Amy, who died in August aged 27 from alcohol poisoning. It will explore the early days of Amy, her rise to fame in the early 00s as a jazz singer and the release of her 2006 magnum opus.

No word of it will explore her childhood growing up in north London suburbs with her Jewish family, who gave her a lifelong love of music. We do that know the studio behind it, Focus Films, remarked it would be “told from Amy’s perspective,” which is ironic because it’s not. I mean, it could be, but she’s not here to give it.

Who else is in Amy Winehouse biopic Back to Black?

It also features Eddie Marsan as Amy’s father and manager Mitch, Lesley Manville as her beloved grandmother Cynthia, and Jack O’Connell as Blake Civil-Fielder, her ex-husband with whom she had an abusive relationship. Many consider him to be the root of many of her substance abuse problems.

What’s the Amy Winehouse biopic Back to Black about?

Judging by the 1 minute and 15-second clip, the film will go into her transformation from her debut album Frank – which introduced the world to a more natural-looking but still quirky and jazzy Amy in 2003 – into the iconic and more recognisable beehive, tattoos and rockability 60s girlband look. With love, Amy dressed like a member of The Ronettes if she had been dragged through a bush backwards. I truly think she would love that assessment. The movie does not hit the mark! This is probably a huge reason it feels so off; it just doesn’t capture it. The makeover tied in with the 2006 album, which shares its name with the film. The award-season darling, which won every gong going like Grammys, Ivor Novellos, Brits and so on, was a  collaboration with producer Mark Ronson and was her last body of work.

Her tragic death, while not surprising after years of her addiction issues providing endless tabloid fodder, broke the hearts of millions. Another talented woman who struggled with the pressure of fame was granted admission into the 27 Club, who, like the trailer shows, was a woman with a whipsmart wit, quipping to interviewers that she ‘ain’t a Spice Girl’ and other classics.

Her tragic death, while not surprising after years of her addiction issues providing endless tabloid fodder, broke the hearts of millions. Another talented woman who struggled with the pressure of fame was granted admission into the 27 Club, who, like the trailer shows, was a woman with a whipsmart wit, quipping to interviewers that she ‘ain’t a Spice Girl’ and other classics.

— popculture (@notgwendalupe) January 11, 2024

What has the director said about the Amy Winehouse biopic Back To Black?

When the project was green, Sam Taylor-Johnson, who has experience making movies about music figures like 2009’s ‘Nowhere Boy’, gushed about feeling “excited and humbled” to bring Amy’s story to the big screen with support from her father and president of the Amy Winehouse Foundation, Mitch.

“I feel excited and humbled to have this opportunity to realise Amy’s beautifully unique and tragic story to cinema accompanied by the most important part of her legacy — her music,” Sam said in a statement. “I am fully aware of the responsibility, with my writing collaborator — Matt Greenhalgh — I will create a movie that we will all love and cherish forever. Just like we do Amy.”

The filmmaker did a sit down with the film magazine Empire, saying: “We really wanted to it from [Amy’s] perspective, and through her eyes; to take us on the journey through her music, and through her words, so that we’re back with her.”

Sam emphasised how it would differ from the 2015 controversial documentary Amy by Asif Kapadia. This retrospective on her life also got the blessing of Mitch, a man who faced allegations of not looking out for his daughter while she was alive, let alone dead. She added: “Rather than the documentary, which is very much outside looking in. I wanted to feel like we were with her in her creative process.”

How did Amy Winehouse’s friends react to the news of a biopic?

When news of the film dropped in April, people were unsure. Amy’s pals dubbed it “ridiculous” and “tasteless”such as the musician Neon Hitch, adding that he felt “very strange. Can you please just let Amy rest?”. However, the film has the backing of her father Mitch, who will be brought to the screen by the actor Eddie Marsden, who even let them shoot in her actual flat to recreate one of her drug overdoses.

“The fact that Amy’s father has said OK to a scene where she had an overdose in the flat she lived in is disgusting.” A pal told the Mail on Sunday.  “It was such a personal thing, and it’s so upsetting and needed.”

They continued it wasn’t right that the flick appeared to be “reliving all the darkest moments” with little to no focus on the “amazing moments”. For example, Amy was a huge advocate for her community, advocating for many causes like saving a local music venue, The George Tavern. Channel 4’s Pop World dubbed her “the most charitable act”, a part of herself she kept hidden from the limelight. In 2009, Julian Jean Baptiste, a man she met on holiday in Saint Lucia, revealed that she paid £4,000 for urgent surgery he needed as part of his cancer, adding that “her generosity gave me my life back.”

What other problems with the Amy Winehouse biopic?

Much blowback has also stemmed from the casting choices, such as how Marisa, who also starred in HBO’s Industry, does not look enough like Amy. These concerns were not ones shared by Mitch, who told TMZ it was “no big deal”.

Also, the decision to cast Jack as Blake, whose abusive relationship with Amy marked a significant note in her decline. First up, there is the height difference. In real life, petite 5’3 Amy was a whole six inches shorter than him. However, Sam admitted that she “couldn’t think of anyone better” than him.

What have people been saying about the Back to Black trailer?

The online reaction has been more of the same as the initial announcement, namely apprehension it would be more of the same.

“The back to black trailer makes me think we need a film about the relentless exploitation of talent by the music industry and how biopics only fuel that exploitation by often being told by people with a financial interest in presenting a certain type of story,” one person mused.

Other worries include that it will not do her legacy justice and he legacy requires more respect, arguably the thing she was denied while she was alive.

One person posted on X: “Honestly, it’s mad morbid that Hollywood made her the joke until she died, and now they wanna make money off her. I hate this world we live in.”

“Too soon,” someone else wrote underneath the trailer, which comes only 12 years after her passing.

Another person added: “Little bit worried about this one. I know it’s just the trailer, but it doesn’t look good at all.”

Others appeared to be not interested at all, “Hard pass. Rather remember her through her music”

Some added they were going in with an open mind, writing: “I wouldn’t have minded an edgier looking Amy… ima watch though.”

It just feels disrespectful to Amy Winehouse and a biopic is coming all too soon

Basically, the trailer leaves a negative taste in people’s mouths, but they keep a cynical mind open. Let’s face it: it’s not looking good, but it could be.

It’s the lethal cocktail of too soon, not accurate enough to her spirit, and comes after not enough reflection about how music treats vulnerable people.

Music biopics can be a great genre of film, but at their peak, like Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, come when the iconic star they are depicting is long gone. They add something and celebrate the person. Perhaps this is an inherent problem with real people, but based on what we’ve given, Amy Winehouse deserves more.

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