There’s a brief turning point in Amy, the stirring new Amy Winehouse documentary that came out this weekend, where we momentarily forget the embattled singer's fate. She's been off drugs for months, living in St. Lucia and starting to look and sound like her pre-fame self. We hear her leave cheerful voice mails to producer Salaam Remi, letting him know how elated she is to be healthy enough to get back in the studio after an extended hiatus. Amazingly, you almost start to believe she'll be fine. The illusion fades fast as soon as those closest to her — namely her father, Mitch, and manager, Raye Cosbert — talk her into doing a small comeback tour in Europe to convince all her naysayers that we haven't seen the last of her.
Amy wasn’t ready. One of her best friends makes a desperate attempt to hide her passport so she can't leave the country. Instead, her family and management check her into rehab — this time she couldn't say, "No, no, no" — to wean her off booze long enough to survive a tour. That's when it becomes clear that Amy has lost the will to fight: She's completely dead-eyed, now doubting her own progress. And so she relapses — hard. During the final performance seen in the film, at 2011’s Belgrade Festival in Serbia, she gives up on herself. In painful footage, we see her barely lucid, refusing to sing, and unable to go on with the show despite her band's reassurance. Like everyone else in Amy's life, they can't help her, and she's ultimately booed off the stage. The European tour is later canceled, and Amy dies of alcohol poisoning a month later, at 27.
While there's no way to discuss Winehouse's legacy without touching on her tragic end, we'd all be better served to spend our time remembering how incredible of a performer she was at the peak of her powers. To that end, we parsed through YouTube and dug up some of her greatest live performances. Her window was brief, but at its best it was beautiful.