‘Back to Black’ director addresses controversy over Amy Winehouse biopic

Fans feel disappointed claiming actor Marisa Abela’s portrayal lacked Amy Winehouse’s “charm”

Entertainment Desk April 01, 2024

Sam Taylor-Johnson, the director of Amy Winehouse biopic "Back to Black," has spoken out about what she views as a misunderstanding about the movie.

Starring Marisa Abela, the film delves into Winehouse’s journey to stardom and the circumstances leading up to the singer’s passing in 2011.

Since the film's announcement and the release of images featuring Abela portraying Winehouse, there has been considerable debate regarding the need and ethical implications of such a biopic.

Additionally, a clip from the movie showing Abela singing in character as Winehouse has triggered strong reactions online, with fans claiming on X that it fails to portray “Amy Winehouse’s talent, charm, or personality.”

However, Taylor-Johnson, known for her work on "Fifty Shades of Grey" and recently addressing rumors about her husband Aaron potentially becoming the next James Bond, is convinced that “Back to Black” isn’t as controversial as people believe it to be online.

Having spoken to Winehouse’s parents during the production, she told The Times, “No, I don’t think [the film is controversial] in any way," adding, "Noise will always be big about something like this, but nobody has really seen it yet and we’ve made it through Amy’s words, music, her perspective."

Taylor-Johnson acknowledged that any other approach would indeed have been exploitative but emphasized that though this film "lacks tragic hindsight", it is a “joyful” homage to Amy.

Lead actor Abela, after stating earlier that she “felt an obligation to do right by Amy,” expressed that if Winehouse were able to watch the film, “she would feel proud of herself.”

The film also features performances by Eddie Marsan and Lesley Manville as Winehouse's parents, and Jack O’Connell as her ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil.

Taylor-Johnson mentioned attempting to meet with Fielder-Civil before the project but noted his reluctance, stating, "I think, for him, there is a lot of fear around the film and he was afraid to meet.”

"Back to Black" is set to hit theaters on April 12th.


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