The Trailer for the Amy Winehouse Biopic Is Here

We can only hope that Amy’s story — Jewishness, health struggles and all — are handled with the grace and care she deserves.

“Back to Black,” the biopic about beloved British Jewish singer Amy Winehouse has been years in the making. In 2022, news broke that up-and-coming actress Marisa Abela, who is also Jewish, was slated to play Amy. Then in early 2023, audiences received their first look at Abela in costume sporting Amy’s iconic beehive, winged eyeliner and numerous tattoos and piercings. And now, we finally have the trailer.

Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, a close friend of Amy’s, “Back to Black” focuses on Winehouse’s ascent to stardom and relationship with husband Blake Fielder-Civil (Jack O’Connell). “I don’t write songs to be famous,” Abela says as Winehouse in the trailer. “I write songs ’cause I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t. I want people to hear my voice, and just forget their troubles.”

More specifically, the movie, which has the backing of Amy Winehouse’s estate, will most likely cover her early years performing in the Camden Town borough of London, the critical recognition of her first album “Frank,” the Grammy award-winning success of her sophomore record “Back to Black,” subsequent harassment from paparazzis and the addiction and health struggles that ultimately caused her untimely death at the age of 27 in 2011. The film may also reflect on Amy’s relationship with her father Mitch Winehouse (Eddie Marsan) — though will likely leave out any controversy like that brought up in the 2015 documentary “Amy” — as well as her relationship with her grandmother Cynthia Winehouse (Lesley Manville).

What remains to be seen is just how much of Amy’s Jewishness will make it into the movie. Though the late singer didn’t identify as being particularly religious, Winehouse grew up in a Jewish household, attended a Jewish Sunday school, went to Yom Kippur services every year “out of respect” and frequently wore a Jewish star necklace. Amy also frequently collaborated with her Jewish music producer Mark Ronson, like in the song “Valerie.” “There was no one like me, a Jewish girl who sings jazz,” Amy said in a 2006 interview.

More broadly, however, there has been larger concern over how Amy’s health and struggles with addiction will be handled by the movie. In January 2023, “Back to Black” began filming in London and photos of Marisa Abela in costume were posted to Twitter. “The reaction was one of pure vitriol, with one particularly viral tweet describing the images of Abela, looking cartoonishly distraught in a Halloween costume-level approximation of Winehouse’s trademark beehive, as ‘fucking revolting’: 34,000 likes and 3,500 quote tweets seemed to agree with the sentiment,” reporter Shaad D’Souza wrote in The Guardian.

“Winehouse was a hugely talented musician who seemed to be surrounded by people more intent on wringing money from her than protecting her mental or physical health,” D’Souza goes on. “The stark images of Abela on set feel like they play into the very same voyeuristic impulses that led to Winehouse’s decline.”

With the movie set to come out in the U.S. on May 10, 2024, we can only hope that Amy’s story — Jewishness, health struggles and all — are handled with the grace and care she deserves.

Evelyn Frick

Evelyn Frick (she/they) is a writer and associate editor at Hey Alma. She graduated from Vassar College in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. In her spare time, she's a comedian and contributor for Reductress and The Onion.

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