When I heard that there was going to be a documentary about Amy Winehouse I was very worried. Did we need to see even more into her well documented life? Privacy, or lack thereof, seemed to play its own character in her life, especially at the end.
1. Amy's Voice
I remember when we stocked her first album 'Frank' at the record shop I worked in when I was 16 and we used to play that album all the time.
As a massive jazz fan, I loved her voice, her lyrics, her influences and I was thrilled that there was a new artist who was cool and swore and said what she thought. Also that she was writing her own music, but that it was proper music as opposed to chart-obsessed pop. (Yes I know I sound like a jazz snob, but go and listen to 'Stronger Than Me' and tell me that her voice and lyrics aren't just incredible!)
2. The Director
When I heard 'SENNA' director, Asif Kapadia, was going to direct, I took a huge sigh of relief. Here we have a director who can use found footage to tell and piece together a story so beautifully. Even if the subject matter is upsetting and heartbreaking to watch at times. Kapadia has done a fantastic job with this documentary, he knew exactly when to tell the story and when to let the footage of Amy speak for itself.
3. The Style
Kapadia has called the style of the documentary 'impressionistic', where you listen to Amy's family, friends, colleagues telling you the story behind the story whilst visually looking at footage of Amy. It holds your attention rather than just talking head interviews. Even as a filmmaker, I don't really watch too many documentaries but I found the style of 'Amy' really interesting and accessible to watch.
4. The Message
The film also serves as a cautionary tale. Through the film you can physically see the change in her appearance, from when she was healthy, when she was wasted, when she was in detox and when her eating disorders mixed with her alcohol and drug use turned her into something else entirely. Hindsight can be a horrible thing at times, but if this documentary helps shine a light on what drugs can do to a person (regardless of how talented they are) or help someone in the future that it a good thing.
5. Amy. Just Amy.
But what shines through this documentary is...Amy. You can tell by the way everyone talks about her that she was such an infectiously loving and wonderful person as well as been superbly talented. She wasn't just her voice. She wasn't just her alcohol/drug use. She was Amy.
(Now if only that Mos Def, Questlove, Winehouse supergroup had existed!)