The line, “I ain’t got the time, and if my daddy thinks I’m fine …” from Amy Winehouse’s breakthrough single, “Rehab,” became her way out of going to rehab for a drug problem that apparently everyone close to her saw but could do nothing to prevent. Listening to the song now, it all seems so obvious, and maybe the song itself was her way of crying out for help. Think about it — “Rehab,” like every other song on Winehouse’s second collection, Back to Black, scored with audiences thanks to the raw confessional tone the singer-songwriter copped to on each track.
If she was a criminal in the box, with us as the detectives ready to ask questions, then she was the Mirandized songbird, fearlessly confessing to every crime in the book because she had committed each and every one — and truth be told, she wasn’t feeling all that guilty about it, either. Asif Kapadia’s searing documentary Amy lays out the background of her life and sets the stage for this posthumous confession, and it is a remarkable story, especially in how it is told to us. Winehouse speaks to us so often and, more importantly, we have the chance to see her — the young working-class Jewish girl with that voice, such a powerful instrument of heartfelt and deeply lived Blues and brazen sensuality. In the film, everyone close to her struggles with some personal blame for what happened, save seemingly her father Mitch (who comes across as the man most culpable outside Winehouse herself), and by the end, the truly empathic in the audience will take on and bear some responsibility as well. We all watched, unable to turn away, and Amy makes us do so again, this time without letting us off the hook. (R) Grade: A