I’d say this documentary about the late, great Amy Winehouse is for more than just her fans. I count myself a fan; she was an amazing, emotional singer and when, no spoilers, she died in an alcoholic stupor at the age of 27 back in 2011, I actually cried. The story here is one of the oldest ones we have: young talent achieves success, fame & wealth and then descends tragically through the effects of drugs/alcohol/public scrutiny/whatever to a sad end. This has been happening to celebrities probably since the human race first had celebrities. But this film really does tell this story right. The film uses footage and recordings of Winehouse that hadn’t seen the light of day prior to this film and that’s what got the fanatics to go see it (even Winehouse’s father, Mitch, who repudiated the film as a whole, still urged people to go see it just for the extra footage; ignore the narrative, he said, but the footage is amazing). It really is a great story and Winehouse herself is a compelling character; we first meet her as a goofy fourteen-year-old and we follow her incredibly fast rise and even faster fall in chronological order. There’s a ton of great music in the film, mostly live performances and, interestingly, some fantastic demo recordings of songs she never got around to releasing. It’s a difficult film to watch; a period of intense heroin addiction in 2008 is captured via a stark parade of photographs, each more haunted than the last, of Winehouse, looking like a corpse already. But ultimately, the film is testament to her talent, not expose or exploitation (though some members of Winehouse’s family feel it crossed over into those two things). Anyway, this film is a great way to get into Winehouse’s music if you haven’t; if you have, it’s a great way to experience it in a new way. But setting that aside, it’s just a wonderfully made, evocative film that I highly recommend. 4 stars.
tl;dr – documentary tracks singer’s amazing rise to fame and tragic spiral into death in an effecting way and doesn’t forget to celebrate her music along the way. 4 stars.