Amy Winehouse's Close Friend Explained Why "Back To Black" Was "Hugely Triggering" To Them

Amy Winehouse's Close Friend Explained Why "Back To Black" Was "Hugely Triggering" To Them

This post contains discussions of substance abuse and scenes from the upcoming biopic Back to Black.

Singer Tyler James has criticized the biopic about his close friend Amy Winehouse.

Closeup of Tyler James
Dave J Hogan / Getty Images

Back to Black, according to the official synopsis, tells the "extraordinary story of Amy Winehouse’s early rise to fame from her early days in Camden through the making of her groundbreaking album Back to Black that catapulted Winehouse to global fame."

Amy Winehouse onstage
Rune Hellestad - Corbis / Corbis via Getty Images

It will also chronicle the "many layers of the iconic artist and the tumultuous love story at the center of one of the most legendary albums of all time," per the synopsis.

Amy Winehouse performing, with her signature beehive hairstyle and bold eyeliner
Tom Curtis / WireImage

The movie features Marisa Abela as Amy and Sam Taylor-Johnson as director.

Closeup of Marisa Abela
Closeup of Marisa Abela
Amy Winehouse with beehive hairstyle, standing by a microphone, expression pensive
Amy Winehouse with beehive hairstyle, standing by a microphone, expression pensive

David M. Benett/Dave Benett / Getty Images for Longchamp, Dominique Charriau / WireImage

It released in the UK on April 12, and afterward, Tyler, who's reportedly referenced twice in the film, spoke out to share his problem with it.

Speaking to the Times magazine, Tyler said he felt the film didn't adequately capture parts of Amy's life, including her drug addiction.

Closeup of Tyler James and Amy Winehouse walking and holding hands
Fiona Hanson - Pa Images / PA Images via Getty Images

“There is this sense of Amy being coherent even when taking drugs, but there was so much suffering," James explained.

Amy Winehouse onstage
Ross Gilmore / Redferns

"The film avoids the uncomfortable. I didn’t like it, and it was hugely triggering for me," he continued.

Tyler James embracing another person
Chris Jackson / Getty Images

James also said one scene of the movie with Amy using a crack pipe was so upsetting, he wished he'd watched the film with "a mental health professional." "I could just smell the crack. I should have been watching that film with a mental health professional next to me. It took me straight back to that time," he said. "I probably sound normal now, but I still suffer from anxiety and depression, and it was like I had a day-long panic attack afterwards. I couldn’t sleep Friday night or Saturday night.”

Amy Winehouse exits a car wearing a satin jacket, a headscarf, and ballet flats, holding a newspaper
Yui Mok - Pa Images / PA Images via Getty Images

Another thing that bothered James — who had known Amy since childhood and lived with her prior to her tragic 2011 death from alcohol poisoning — is how much the film centered her relationship with her ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil.

Amy Winehouse performing, tattooed arms, leopard print dress, seated with microphone, band in background
Samir Hussein / Getty Images

"It focuses way too much on Blake," James argued. "Amy would have been pleased for Blake [because of his sympathetic portrayal], but she wouldn’t have liked the film. She was very real. She was also very funny and intelligent.”

Back to Black releases in US theaters on May 17.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and find more resources here.