Winehouse biopic “Back to Black,” Does a Massive Disservice…(Movie Review)

by Rosa Parra

“Back to Black” is directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and stars Marisa Abela, Jack O’Connell, Eddie Marsan, and Lesley Manville. The film follows the late-Amy Winehouse‘s life, leading to her Grammy-winning album, “Back to Black.”

My association with Winehouse is nonexistent, so I hoped to learn about her life and her moment of stardom through this movie. Of course, I know about her tragic ending, but I wasn’t well-versed in her career. It saddens me to report this film did nothing to educate me on her life. I was left frustrated by the lack of emphasis on her talents and career and was further frustrated by how hyper-focused it was on her addictions and toxic romantic relationship. Although I’m aware that these ties highly influence the album, I was presented with an image of an utterly unlikable artist. It was as if only those traits defined her as an artist, leaving me quite disappointed. Human beings are complex, and I find it slightly unbelievable that Amy was a person with an addiction whose actual demise came at the expense of a tumultuous romance.

Her family is introduced, with her grandmother and father playing a significant role in her life. Her grandmother has a beautiful bond and relationship with Amy, but its superficial approach in the film detracted from any emotional investment. Her father was around during her rise and present throughout, but that relationship was also thinly portrayed. If the film had spent more time with Amy and her relationships with her various family members, perhaps the film would’ve been more substantial. Instead, we get roughly half of the movie with a drunk Amy.

The performances are solid though. Abela delivers a captivating performance, and her resemblance to Amy is undeniable, but it’s not enough to save the movie. Not even the iconic songs can save this overly generic biopic from falling flat.

Overall, “Back to Black” does a massive disservice to a talented artist whose memory should be handled more carefully. It’s a frustrating music biopic that, unlike its artist, is forgettable.

2/5

Film Critic, Rosa Parra, also contributes to The Daily Chela and Rotten Tomatoes. You can also follow her on X.

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