Courtesy of Dean Rogers/Focus Features
Grab a box of tissues and draw on some winged eyeliner, because the tragically short life of Amy Winehouse is coming soon to a theater near you.
The “Rehab” singer, who died in 2011 at the age of 27 from alcohol poisoning, is the subject of an upcoming biopic. But while some fans of her music are excited to explore Winehouse's story and songs—and introduce them to a new generation—others are already skeptical of the project.
The final product remains to be seen. For now, here's everything we know about Back to Black.
Who’s making it?
The film is written by Matt Greenhalgh and directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, who previously collaborated on Nowhere Boy, a film about the early years of John Lennon. It's reported in some places that the script is based on Daphne Barak's book Saving Amy, but that book appears to have been the basis of a different biopic that isn't going forward, per People.
Both Universal Music Group and the Amy Winehouse estate are on board with the project, meaning that the filmmakers will have access to all her songs.
Who’s in the cast?
Marisa Abela, star of Industry on HBO (BBC2 if you're across the pond), will play the iconic singer.
Here's an early look at Abela in character:
Also in the cast: Eddie Marsan as Winehouse's father, Mitch; Juliet Cowan as Amy’s mother, Janis; Lesley Manville as Amy's grandmother Cynthia; Ryan O'Doherty as her former boyfriend Chris Taylor; and Jack O’Connell as her ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil.
What’s it about?
It looks like a relatively straightforward drama about her life as a singer. It seems to track her start as a jazz singer and her rise to fame. It's about her life as a musician, so we probably won't see much of her childhood.
“I first saw [Winehouse] perform at a talent show at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho, and it was immediately obvious she wasn’t just ’talent’…. She was genius,” director Taylor-Johnson told Deadline. “As a filmmaker you can’t really ask for more. I feel excited and humbled to have this opportunity to realize Amy’s beautifully unique and tragic story to cinema accompanied by the most important part of her legacy—her music.”
That club is apparently the site of the very first scene the crew shot, according to Taylor-Johnson's Instagram.
It's also likely to cover her harassment by the media after her second album, Back to Black, propelled her to megastar status, as well as her struggles with bulimia and substance addiction. In addition to alcohol, Winehouse abused cocaine and heroin.
Why is it controversial?
The award-winning 2015 documentary Amy put a lot of focus on the role Winehouse's father had in the singer's life and health struggles. Many viewers came away feeling that, had Mitch put his daughter into medical care, rather than pressured her to perform (and continue earning), her death could have been avoided. Winehouse herself alludes to the tour-versus-recovery dilemma in her hit song “Rehab,” singing, “I ain't got the time, and if my daddy thinks I'm fine….”
But given that the Amy Winehouse estate is on board with the project, many fans are under the assumption that the movie won't get into Mitch's controversial handling of his daughter's career. Mitch spoke out against his portrayal in the documentary when it was released, saying that it was not greed but a lack of understanding of addiction that drove his actions. Her parents shared their own view of the story in the documentary Reclaiming Amy.
And also, when the first set photos came out, the response was…not good. But to be fair, set photos always look bad! It's the finished product that matters.
When will it come out?
Soon! Catch the biopic in theaters May 17, 2024.
Is there a trailer?
Yes! Focus Features dropped the trailer on February 2. In the clip, we watch Abela grow up in character as Winehouse, from playing guitar in her bedroom and recording her first album to eventually selling out shows across the globe. We also get glimpses of her tumultuous relationships with her father and her on-again, off-again partner Fielder-Civil.
Watch the trailer below:
Originally Appeared on Glamour