5 Things You Should Know About Amy Winehouse Biopic, Back To Black

Including why Mark Ronson doesn't appear in the film.
Industry actor Marisa Abela stars as Amy Winehouse
Industry actor Marisa Abela stars as Amy Winehouse
StudioCanal/Focus Features

It was only a matter of time before a biopic about Amy Winehouse came out.

After all, the music legend – who died in 2011 of an accidental alcohol overdose – remains one of the biggest and most beloved singer-songwriters of the 21st century.

Now, nearly 13 years on from her tragic death, StudioCanal has unveiled Back To Black, the first feature-length biopic about Amy’s life, helmed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and starring Marisa Abela as the Grammy award-winning artist.

So, before you go and see it, here are five things you should know about the much-hyped film...

1. Yes, it really is Marisa Abela singing

Marisa gives a career-defining performance as Amy, but the Industry and Barbie actor has already run into some criticism, in particular for her delivery of the Rehab singer’s vocals.

The original plan had been to use Amy’s actual vocals in the movie, but due to the extent of Marisa’s preparation for the role (she took guitar and vocal lessons four times a week, two hours at a time, for three months) the actor’s own singing voice is what we hear in the finished product.

Truthfully, no one can do Amy’s unique voice justice, but Marisa does an admirable job. In fact, there were times in the film – mostly when Amy is excited or upset – that the impression is pretty uncanny.

2. It was directed by Fifty Shades of Grey director, Sam Taylor-Johnson

Sam has spoken about wanting audiences to feel “joy” when watching Back To Black, and that she feel obligated to do right by Amy and make the film through her words, music and perspective.

The director further added that she “wanted to make something that people would watch and then go straight home and listen to her music”.

Lesley Manville stars as Amy's beloved grandmother, Cynthia Winehouse
Lesley Manville stars as Amy's beloved grandmother, Cynthia Winehouse
StudioCanal/Focus Features

3. Amy’s parents were executive producers on the movie

Like Nowhere Boy – Sam’s 2009 feature film debut – Back To Black feels very grounded in Amy’s relationships with her family. The singer is immediately shown to be super close with her father, Mitch Winehouse played by Eddie Marsan, and paternal grandmother, played by Lesley Manville (who are both brilliant in their roles, as per usual).

In fact, their relationships appear enviably wholesome, which makes sense when you consider that the film was undersigned by Amy’s estate with members of the Winehouse family acting as executive producers.

However, as Sam recently insisted while in conversation with The Times, Amy’s family “had no say in what she shot”.

4. Mark Ronson doesn’t actually appear

Despite being heavily involved in Amy’s breakthrough second album, and being closely associated with her career in general, the Grammy and Oscar award-winning producer doesn’t appear as a character in the film, and is merely name-checked once or twice.

He was initially set to be portrayed by Canadian actor Jeff Tunke in the film, but these scenes ended up on the cutting room floor, and Jeff’s name has been removed from the movie’s credits on IMDB, according to Daily Mail.

5. It’s definitely worth seeing

While critics have come down on the film’s lack of insight into Amy’s life and the occasionally expositional script, both Marisa and Jack O’Connell have won praise for their depictions of Amy and her ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil, respectively.

Amy receives several Grammy awards during the emotional dénouement on the film
Amy receives several Grammy awards during the emotional dénouement on the film
StudioCanal/Focus Features

Personally, I feel Back To Black is a warm and intimate portrayal that is very much held together by strong performances all around. Sure, there are some clunky lines here and there, but the film at least feels like a window into Amy’s tortured soul, as much as it possibly could be.

Add to that a touching score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, and you have a pretty special tribute to an indelible performer.

Back To Black is in cinemas now.


What's Hot