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Back to Black director clears up misconception about Amy Winehouse biopic

Amy Winehouse biopic director Sam Taylor-Johnson has cleared up what she believes to be a misconception about the “controversial” film.

The Fifty Shades of Grey filmmaker, who has addressed speculation her husband Aaron will be the new James Bond, directed Back to Black, which sees Industry actor Marisa Abela play the “Rehab” singer, and explores her rise to fame and the events leading up to her death in 2011.

Since the project was announced, and images of Abela in character surfaced online, many have been questioning the necessity of a film about Winehouse, with many accusing it of exploiting her life.

Similarly, a clip from the film, showing Abela singing in character as the Grammy Award-winning star, has been met with brutal reactions online.

However, Taylor-Johnson, who spoke with Winehouse’s parents ahead of the film, is undeterred, and believes Back to Black is in no way near as controversial as people are claiming – and explained why.

“No, I don’t think [the film is controversial] in any way,” she told The Times, 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 “anything else” would have indeed been “exploitative”, but said this particular film “lacks tragic hindsight”, stating: “It is not an investigative piece – it joyfully honours Amy.”

Abela, who said she “felt an obligation to do right by Amy”, expressed the hope that, should Winehouse have been able to watch the film, “she would feel proud of herself”.

Also starring in the film are Eddie Marsan and Lesley Manville, who plays Winehouse’s parents, and Jack O’Connell, who plays the singer’s ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil.

Taylor-Johnson said she tried and failed to meet with Fielder-Civil ahead of the project, stating: I think, for him, there is a lot of fear around the film and he was afraid to meet.”

Marisa Abela as Amy Winehouse in ‘Back to Black’ (StudioCanal)
Marisa Abela as Amy Winehouse in ‘Back to Black’ (StudioCanal)

Back to Black is in cinemas on 12 April.