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Back to Black

Can you seperate the music from Amy Winehouse's life
Fri 17 May 2024

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⭐️ ⭐️ (out of 5)

Amy Winehouse (Marisa Abela) was a musical force that went on to define style and introduce her sound to the world on a grand scale, and then she was gone. Back to Black was the album that took her music from England to the ends of the earth. Yet, her tragic struggle with substance abuse and mental health caused her more headlines than her award-winning music. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey) hoped to share the story of this celebrated artist through Amy’s eyes and how her life was expressed through her music.

Screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh (Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool) takes audiences on a journey into the singer's life as she enters the industry. Amy grew up in a Jewish family of jazz performers who influenced her life, music and style, especially her grandmother, Cynthia (Lesley Manville). As the young artist began to rise, she was signed by Simon Fuller's 19 Management team and released her first album on Island Records. Yet, her real opportunity to break onto the international stage came when producer Mark Ronson produced Back to Black. This album catapulted the vocalist into the limelight, including the vicious nature of the English paparazzi. As Amy transitioned from local pub singer to worldwide sensation, she sought solace and normalcy in the arms of Blake Fielder-Civil (Jack O'Connell), who became the love of her life but eventually introduced her to a life of drugs.

Music biopics are a challenge for filmmakers, especially finding talent who can embody the artist and perform their music on screen. Sam Taylor-Johnson gives this film a dream-like state throughout, which gives this tragic tale a mystical feel while conveying the troubled soul of Winehouse. Marisa Abela does manage to pull off the vocal performances with exceptional musical skill. Yet, the irony of her performance is that the actress delivers more of a character of the musician than tapping into her humanity. Finding that balance is a challenge for any performer, and Abela proves she has the chops to sing like her on-screen persona. Eddie Marsan (The Gentlemen) and Lesley Manville give some gravitas to the supporting cast and help to show the loving family that adored the singer.

The cautionary storyline that is reminiscent of many musicians over the years who have joined the fated 27 Club (Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain), Amy’s can be heard in her music and through this film. She was a talented artist who’s life was unfortunately cut short due to substance abuse. Back to Black captures the brilliance and catastrophic aspects of Amy Winehouse's life, leaving one to wonder if one could not have existed without the other.

Reel Dialogue: Addiction & the Bible

One element of the film that stands out is the importance of community for the sake of addiction recovery. Alcoholics/Narcotics Anonymous do look to God as a means of help; some may wonder if Jesus and drug addiction can coexist. Overcomers Outreach does brilliant work of helping people through this recovery process.

Remember that the Bible addresses addiction in its rawest form. Specifically, some verses speak to a person’s compulsive need for something. 1 Corinthians 10: 13 touches on this subject, but if you need help in this area, please click the Overcomers Outreach link to get the assistance you need.

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” - 1 Corinthians 10:13

This Bible passage helps to begin the journey into the intersection of the Bible and addiction. In this letter written by the Apostle Paul, he teaches that God never gives you more than you can handle. He also provides a solution or “a way out” of any situation. Regardless of your situation, God has an out when you are tempted to sin. Our team at Reel Dialogue encourages specific addiction treatment. Still, this verse is an excellent place to start when seeking God’s solutions to your struggles.

Contact Overcomers Outreach today if you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction.

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