Movies Like Woodstock (1970)

Staff & contributors

, 2015

In Amy, Kapadia eschews talking heads for something more intimate: home videos, photographs, and phone messages from Winehouse’s earliest and closest friends, which he stitches together to reintroduce a version of the singer that has, up till this point, been ignored by the public. It’s an attempt to reverse Winehouse’s vilified public persona, not by denying her struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, but by showing as many parts of her as possible. The musical prodigy, jazz fanatic, and sweet friend, as well as the troubled soul, hurt child, and obsessive lover. She’s far from perfect, but she is human, not some punching bag caricature the media has made her out to be. Though Kapadia’s methods sometimes get a little too close for comfort (using phone messages intended for her friends and private clips of her being high feels borderline voyeuristic), they also feel necessary in reclaiming an identity that’s closer to her true self. During these questionable moments, Amy feels not just hard but wrong to watch, but that discomfort is also the point. It should be unsettling to get to know a real person.

Genre: Documentary, Music

Actor: Amy Winehouse, Blake Fielder, Frankie Boyle, Jay Leno, Juliette Ashby, Mark Ronson, Mitch Winehouse, Pete Doherty, Russell Brand, Salaam Remi, Tom Myers, Tony Bennett, Tyler James, Yasiin Bey

Director: Asif Kapadia

Rating: R