It's garnered a glowing reception at the Cannes Film Festival, but Winehouse's ex Reg Traviss says filmmakers "exploited her talent"

By Jeff Nelson
Updated May 19, 2015 06:30 PM
Credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty; Dave J Hogan/Getty

One of the buzziest films premiering at this year’s Cannes Film Festival is, unsurprisingly, one of the most controversial, too.

Amy – the documentary chronicling late soul star Amy Winehouse – made its debut at the French festival this week, and it’s already sparking debate.

So far, it’s been praised by the critics. Vanity Fair lauds it as remarkable, while Variety calls it a hit for its “intimacy and intelligence.”

Winehouse died in 2011 at the age of 27 of accidental alcohol poisoning. Throughout her music career – during which she nabbed five Grammys for her breakout Back to Black album, plus on posthumous gramophone statue for her “Body and Soul” duet with Tony Bennett – the singer struggled with addiction publicly.

Though featured in the film, the late artist’s parents have already come forward to call the film “misleading.” Now Reg Traviss, Winehouse’s fiancé at the time of her death, has penned an essay slamming the documentary as “nothing more than piece of orchestrated spin.”

“Amy was a real person, and what the documentary makers have done – like so many others before them – is effectively attack her,” Traviss wrote in a heated confessional on The Telegraph. “They have taken her name and exploited her talent for their own ends, without taking the responsibility of reflecting the true person that she was.”

Due to the sterling reputation of Asif Kapadia, Traviss writes that he had no reason not to trust the director. However, after viewing the documentary, Traviss describes it as “a fictionalized biopic centered around a distorted depiction of Amy’s life. It upsets me that this film may now shape how people remember her. The film just hasn’t captured her true character. There were many layers to her, which is what made her such an attractive person.”

Traviss also took umbrage with the director’s interpretation of Winehouse’s father, Mitch. “Having spent much time with Amy and her father together, I saw their relationship for myself, and so find the documentary’s crude portrayal of Mitch quite despicable,” he adds.

For his part, Kapadia hopes Winehouse’s family and loved ones unhappy with the finished product will come around eventually, admitting to the AP “there are maybe things that could have been done differently.”

“I’m hoping with bit of hindsight that there’ll be a rethinking of it,” Kapadia added. “Not to take things personally but just to say, look, people love her – that’s the thing. It’s about her and kind of rebalancing everyone’s image of her.