The documentary chronicles Amy's short career and troubled personal life. It seems that she suffered from a lack of parental control growing up and as an adult was surrounded by promoters and family members more interested in profiting from her talent than getting her into treatment. She eventually died due to complications from alcohol and bulimia, joining the "27 Club" of musicians dying at the age of 27 from drug and alcohol abuse.
Amy's life is both troubling and haunting for several reasons. Watching the film, one hopes in vain for some turning point that will make things better. It's similar to watching a car wreck in slow motion where the outcome is known in advance. It's also easy to pin the blame for her death on the people around her, such as her father who seemed oblivious to her problems and her husband who had severe drug problems of his own. Still, she had other friends who were trying to help and, like all of us, she was the one that was ultimately responsible for her actions.
As with other people with great talent who died young we are left wondering not only what would have happened had things turned out differently but also what meaning such an untimely and unfortunate end has for us. I was struck early in the movie by a short take of a 16-year -old Amy singing Moon River with the National Youth Orchestra. It sounded like a spellbinding performance and I have searched, unsuccessfully, to find it elsewhere. Although addiction is certainly a complicated disorder, the line in the song about searching for the rainbow's end seems to capture some truth about her life. Like many of us, she was searching for that place where everything will be okay, where we can feel good about ourselves. Sometimes it does seem that it's just around the bend, but often it isn't, and we need to deal with that. Perhaps a life such as Amy's can help us to develop a sense of both appreciation and compassion--that is, an appreciation for the talented people around us as well as a compassion for the struggles that they, and we, face in navigating life.