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The First Clip Of The Vocals In The Upcoming Amy Winehouse Biopic "Back To Black" Have Been Released, And Yeah, It's Not Going Down Well

Director Sam Taylor-Johnson defended the upcoming Amy Winehouse biopic Back to Black after new waves of scrutiny.

Marisa Abela as Amy Winehouse in a recording studio with headphones on, singing passionately into a microphone
Studio Canal

The movie, starring Industry actor Marisa Abela as Amy throughout her fame and death, is set to hit cinemas on April 12. It's been controversial from the jump, with some fearing that the project would be exploitative or simply too soon after her 2011 death.

Marisa Abela sitting at an event wearing a light jacket over a textured top, accessorized with a small handbag

Controversy was fueled by the involvement of Mitch Winehouse, Amy's father, in the movie.

Jacopo M. Raule / Getty Images for Fendi

Last week, a clip was released showing Back to Black's depiction of the process of Amy's first record deal and writing "Stronger Than Me," the song that opens the 2003 album Frank.

It gives the first in-depth look at Marisa's Amy vocals, which, to put it bluntly, was not met well. An excerpt of the clip quickly went viral on TikTok, with some contrasting the "forced" vocals with Austin Butler's voice in Elvis.

The image contains text criticizing someone's use of autotune and suggesting they take singing lessons from Austin Butler to improve
gracebirdly / Via tiktok.com

Others further insinuated that the film was going into parody territory, a common trope during Amy's life.

For context, here's the real Amy singing "Stronger Than Me" live:

This weekend, both Sam and Marisa spoke to the Sunday Times. Marisa said she felt "an obligation to do right by Amy." The piece further said that she practiced with a vocal coach for three months beforehand, multiple times a week.

Marisa Abela as Amy Winehouse in distress, surrounded by paparazzi and police
GC Images / Getty Images

When asked explicitly if the movie was controversial, Sam replied, "No I don’t think so in any way. 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. Anything else would, yes, have been exploitative, but this retelling lacks tragic hindsight. It is not an investigative piece — it joyfully honors Amy.”

Marisa Abela as Amy Winehouse singing onstage
Focus Features

Sam further acknowledged the 2015 documentary Amy, adding, “All my sense of her recently has been through the media and documentary. We have judged her through them, so I wanted to make something that people would watch and then go straight home and listen to her music.”

Amy Winehouse performing with a microphone, wearing a checked dress
Daniel Boczarski / Redferns

The writer further suggested that the movie "exonerates" Mitch, to which Sam emphasized that the family was not involved in what was shot. Sam explained, "This is a totally different perspective of Mitch as a parent, through Amy’s eyes. It’s, ‘For right or wrong, all the choices he makes, that’s just my dad.’”

  Focus Features
Focus Features

So, what do you make of the clip?

You can read the full interview with Sam and Marisa here.