Rob Jones

‘A desire to aspire but both feet firmly in the bonfire’ could be the epitaph for Amy Winehouse and that sentiment becomes crystal clear in the biopic ‘Back to Black’. A chance to view this eagerly awaited 2024 movie was achieved in the comfortable and contemporary surroundings of the Chapter Arts Theatre in Canton. On a wet May day, a jaunt to the cinema seemed appropriate and the emotional rollercoaster that followed was well worth the venture.

For fans of the singer this is an imperative watch but for anyone with a beating heart cannot escape this story of trials and tribulations – all of which skirt around the talents of an undoubted post millennium icon.

Marisa Abela puts in a pristine performance as the lead lady. This journey takes on many twists and turns as Amy demands performance creativity in the face of controlling ogres. She battles drink and then drugs after falling in love with a cocaine addict. Incalculable levels of chaos and confusion ensue from what was to be an unstable relationship based on love and lust plus temper and tantrums. These factors eventually lead to hostility, an ugly separation and then a final split for the ‘toxic co-dependants’. Attempts at pregnancy fail and the bulimia is out of control. There is also a nicotine obsession and that frail body becomes a random canvas for ink. She confides in a caring dad but the extremities of many situations are out of the ballpark for him; her treasured nan passes; the paparazzi follow her every move, and in among all of this mayhem – global stardom and universal success put her on the ultimate pop pedestal.

Like many others before and no doubt, many more to follow – the ‘fame game’ is not for everyone and it certainly was not for Miss Winehouse. She just wanted to be a crafted singer and follow on from her jazz idols. Amy Winehouse is among the recording hierarchy of recent times but she is sadly no longer with us. The maelstrom of stardom can be a cruel beast.
Be prepared for a bumpy ride but miss ‘Back to Black’ at your peril…..