Directed By: Asif Kapadia
I feel like this documentary definitely opened my eyes to who Amy Winehouse actually was. A lot of the media exposure around her always suggested she was a trainwreck, and her “appearances” in films like Date Movie and South Park didn’t help that. They made her look demented and dirty, when in reality Amy was anything but. I have a wildly different opinion of Amy Winehouse now, one that she should actually be remembered for. Amy was a force to be reckoned with, and a rare talent that comes along once in a blue moon.
If you are clueless about Amy, then this documentary is definitely for you. Especially if you let the media dictate your opinion of her. There’s a real person there, and she had real problems. Fame did nothing to help, and pushed her further and further into the darkness. She never wanted to be famous, she just wanted to be a working musician. The fame thing caught her off guard.
So why the B+? Well, I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it. Some of the footage, and interviews seemed more like filler than anything else. Not everything included really felt necessary to the overall arc of the documentary. Sometimes we’d get lost in Amy’s performance, watching her sing. That’s great for a music doc, but I felt that this was more of an expose of how fame can destroy a person. I think we needed to understand who Amy was, what her problems were, and why the giant magnifying glass of being famous ultimately did her in. Her music is great, but pausing to hear her perform seems out of place. I think this documentary could have stood on its own without it. Perhaps the director was afraid people would complain there was no music in a documentary about Amy Winehouse. Maybe I’m in the minority. I don’t know.
It’s just a slightly less-than-perfect documentary. I still recommend it. It’s just not the best documentary I’ve seen this year (though I’ve seen it popping up on a lot of year end lists). For me, this documentary is a lot like the singer it chronicles: Great, but you can’t help feel that it could have offered so much more.
FINAL GRADE: B+