Reclaiming Amy

Photograph: BBC
Rating 8.2
Streamer BBC iPlayer
Seasons 1
Episodes 1 x 60 mins

It’s been a decade since the tragic passing of Amy Winehouse, the wonderful singer, Camden icon and relatable legend. And now – after that rather controversial (and Oscar winning) doc from Asif Kapadia in 2015 – Amy’s family are opening up on the star’s life and legacy, in an emotional and heartfelt film.

Obviously, they’ve got a few things to say. If you have seen previous documentary, Amy, you’ll remember that her family didn’t come off too well, with her battles with addiction being blamed on an unhappy childhood, and her father Mitch being painted as a fame hungry monster. But both he and Amy’s mum, Janis, who narrates, are here to tell their own version of events, and share their tales of their daughter.

And for them, Amy was more than an idol, a singer whose music touched hearts. She was someone they knew and loved for more than her fame or her talent. This is what the film is really about – it’s a pure, honest tribute to her career, and their loss. We hear from Amy’s close friend, Catriona, who reflects on the singer’s early fame, where her joy was visible with every performance. But then things took a turn, her second album, Back to Black an absolute sensation, having us all singing in our cars, cranking the radio up and bopping along to hits like Tears Dry on Their Own, and arguably her most iconic and now quietly tragic track, Rehab. But whilst her music success was soaring, so were her personal struggles, with Amy battling bulimia and addiction behind closed doors.

For another heartfelt family tribute on a much-loved entertainer, watch Ronnie Corbett’s Lost Tapes

At least, it was behind closed doors for a moment, then it was plastered on every paper, tabloid and gossip column across the UK. But despite her public persona, we learn in the film that Amy was incredibly hard to reach, adopting a closed off and private personality, even in the midst of huge heartbreak involving love affairs, grief and her eating disorder. Her parents talk of their struggle to get through to her, how they considered sectioning her.

The film, however, is not all about the struggles she endured, but also about the highs. Her friends talk about their adventures in London, and her parents share home videos of her as a wide-eyed toddler. These moments are as moving as those in which they discuss her battles. It really is a heartfelt, touching and deeply personal film, reminding us all what a talent Amy was, and reiterating the sadness felt by so many when her young life was cut short.

In The Guardian, Rebecca Nicholson says: “Even now, after 10 years, the rawness is palpable, and the final five minutes are crushingly sad. In the end, the most convincing case Reclaiming Amy makes is that nobody is to blame for the singer’s death. ‘The culprit is addiction,’ says Mitch.” In The Financial Times Suzi Feay calls Reclaiming Amy a “heartfelt and, [her parents] hope, vindicating riposte,” whilst The Telegraph’s Ed Power says the film is a “powerful testament to the scars caused by grief.” However does add that “it did little to deepen our understanding of Winehouse. As both person and artist, she remained aloof and unknowable: a beehive hairdo, a stunning voice, an enigmatic smile.”

First shown July 2021. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.

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