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The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

Back to Bad

Amy Winehouse’s horrible new biopic
Fair use from Focus Features

From the initial release of behind the scenes photos a few months ago, “Back to Black” has faced backlash from critics and fans alike. Now with its recent release on May 17, the movie has received a multitude of one star reviews across the board, and I certainly agree.

The movie follows Amy Winehouse (Marisa Abela) through her complicated relationship with her ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil (Jack O’Connell), which inspires her most famous album, “Back to Black.” Through their trials and tribulations, the audience sees how their love develops and grows into inspiration for Winehouse. But what many are furious about are the facts that the film left out – drugs, eating disorders and violence.

Biopics in and of themselves are a tough genre to do right, as writers face the challenge of squeezing a person’s life into a two to three hour film. On top of that, there are so many other confounding variables, with finding the right actors, costumes, sets, music, etc. “Back to Black” failed at every single aspect they possibly could.

First off, Abela doesn’t resemble Winehouse whatsoever. She puts on this weird accent throughout the entire film, and her singing scenes attempt yet fail to resemble Winehouse, which is so uncomfortable to listen to. At times, she did honestly sound like the famed singer, but most of the film it felt almost comical to watch Abela try to sing. Even her acting and emotions seemed beyond fake in extremely important scenes. I thought O’Connell as Fielder-Civil was just alright, and didn’t stand out against all the wrongness happening with his co-star.

Costuming didn’t help this film either. Abela looked like a Spirit Halloween version of Winehouse, with an atrocious beehive wig accompanying her for far too many scenes, and scrappy outfits put together that don’t make any sense. I thought the makeup was okay, but with the eyeliner on Abela, it only emphasized the ingenuity of this character she couldn’t portray correctly. When telling this story about Amy Winehouse, who is visually known for her signature eyeliner, hairstyle and outfits, it is downright disrespectful to get those aspects so wrong in a biopic dedicated to her.

The most important part of this film that ruined it for me was the writing itself. As stated previously, this film followed the love story between Winehouse and Fielder-Civil – and that’s literally all the film did. Winehouse struggled with addiction and bulimia, as well as general disturbing and violent events throughout her life, and to have those instances written off felt disgraceful to her legacy. This movie doesn’t portray any semblance of her. If the writers wanted a romance movie, they should’ve left Winehouse’s name out of their screenplay and created something else entirely. Creating this false narrative of her life and releasing it to the public is almost as if they’re trying to erase all her “flaws” and create a flat, “perfect” version of the famed singer.

All in all, I was extremely disappointed with this film. I love it when movies, specifically those that portray important historical events and figures, just get it right. I love accuracy, genuinity and reality – this movie had none of that. I’m not even the biggest fan of Amy Winehouse, and I knew while watching the hour and 47 minute film that they were actively portraying things incorrectly. It doesn’t feel right knowing that people are making money off this mockery of Winehouse. I wish they could have shown more of the darker sides of her life following the release of her album “Back to Black”. Show the violence, the eating disorder, the addiction – just show reality, even if it’s ugly. I do think the stuff they got right, even if it’s only a small portion of the entire film, they executed well. Some of the time, Abela did sound scarily like Winehouse in her noteworthy singing voice. I thought the romance aspect was shown in a productive way, guiding the audience through some of Winehouse’s actual inspiration. But the bad outweighs the good in this film, and the erasure of her story caused the loss of four stars. If you’re looking for a more accurate representation of this musical sensation, I would recommend her book, “Amy Winehouse: In Her Words.” But the film, “Back to Black,” should be avoided at all costs, and I wouldn’t suggest that watch to anyone, Winehouse fan or not.

“Back to Black:” ★☆☆☆☆

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Rylie Unangst
Rylie Unangst, Echo Staffer
Hey!!!! My name is Rylie and I am a senior this year. I am one of the captains of the girl's lacrosse team and I manage the football team. Outside of that, I really enjoy watching movies, eating sushi, and hanging out with friends! I’m really looking forward to this year!

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