BACK TO BLACK – A Review by Cynthia Flores

BACK TO BLACK – A Review by Cynthia Flores

This new film by director Sam Taylor-Johnson tells the story of singer Amy Winehouse and her rise to fame. She was only eighteen when she first started getting attention in the music industry in London. She was twenty-three when she met her future husband Blake and wrote the critically acclaimed multiple Grammy Award-winning Album Back to Black in 2006. She was only twenty-seven when she died of alcohol poisoning on July 23rd in 2011.

She packed a lot into that short life and still has a legion of fans around the world. Her tumultuous life was chronicled in Asif Kapakia’s Oscar-winning 2015 documentary Amy. It used archival interviews, many damning, with her family and friends as well as with Winehouse. All to make the case that everyone was at fault for her untimely demise. Blake Fielder-Civil, her husband, and her father Mitch Winehouse were the worst of the offenders. Making loads of money off the talented but troubled Amy.

In this film, the director has said in many interviews that the film is meant to center on Amy Winehouse’s story from her perspective. Permission was given by her father Mitch who is the administrator of his daughter’s estate. He publicly stated that he hated the documentary Amy. Funny, how this film shows him as a sweet and over-indulgent father. Nothing like the user the documentary showed.

I was a fan of the documentary. I knew a lot about Amy (played by Marisa Abela) so I did not get the reason to tell such a different story. I enjoyed her relationship with her Grandmother Cynthia (Lesley Manville). It was sweet and she seemed to be the only one in her life who did not use Amy or want anything but the best for her. Her volatile relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil (Jack O’Connell) was well done but still showed Amy as the bad guy.

Marisa Abela is singing all the songs in the film as she channels Amy Winehouse. Her acting is incredible and her singing is dead on but lacks the magic that Amy always had. The performance made me long for the real thing. I revisited all the music that Amy gave to us all after the film ended.

I give Back to Black 3-stars. I did not like it as much as I wanted to. However, it will be seen by her fans because we watch everything about her. However, anyone who does not know her or wasn’t lucky enough to be there when she was at her height will walk away with a whitewashed version of how she lived and died way too young.


Directed by: Sam Taylor-Johnson

Written by: Matt Greenhalgh

Rated: R

Selig Rating: 3 Stars

Running Time: 2 hrs 2 min

Drama / Biography

Release: In Theaters May 17th

Starring: Marisa Abela, Eddie Marsen, Jack O’Connell, Leslie Manville


The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie/show, well worth the time and price.

4 Stars – Good movie/show

3 Stars – OK movie/show

2 Stars – Well, there was nothing else…

1 Star – Total waste of time.

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