Amy ★★★½

This is a sad, sad film. Amy Winehouse's life was tragic. The viewer gets little or no reprieve from this sadness; I can only imagine how Amy Winehouse must've felt getting no reprieve from her own sadness.

Kapadia makes some choices that more or less pay off. His use of off-screen interviews, brilliant editing of home, TV, and archival footage and Amy Winehouse's own lyrics and voice serve to create a real intimacy with Winehouse's life and struggles. These choices could've fallen flat but for the most part Kapadia is successful in carrying a story with these devices.

I couldn't help but compare this documentary to the recently released WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE. Two troubled, genius, female pop singers. Both revered by their contemporaries, critically successful, but battling demons in their own lives. Both caught up with nasty men. Both caught in the spell of drugs (medicinal or otherwise) that rendered their powers inert for a time. I appreciated MISS SIMONE's cultural context and political commentary and wished AMY had some of the same. But it seems Kapadia wasn't out to say anything about the world, just to tell the story of a tortured soul.