The dead singer, not the movie about her. If I were judging Amy purely on filmmaking skills, it would receive a thumbs-down. Case in point. I heard Tony Bennett’s posthumous compliment of her about being that rare “true Jazz singer.” So it’s appropriate that the movie use this quote. What’s inappropriate is repeating the quote three times. That gets uncomfortable, because it uncovers the movie’s greatest fault: disorganization, and by extension lack of vision. Amy did that a few times — repeated itself unnecessarily, as if the filmmakers weren’t confident they were getting their point across. Repetition in film can be a very effective narrative device if done tactfully. Tact is what Amy — the movie — lacks.
I think the reason for Amy’s faults is that the filmmakers were so absorbed with all the material in front of them that they got swallowed up by it. Without knowing what to leave out, they threw everything in, sometimes multiple times.
But I admit, I got swallowed up myself. There’s no doubt that Amy Winehouse was a great singer, a great talent, a young woman full of soul and passion. Amy did not open up any sort of deep, profound revelation that we’ve never heard before. The job of a documentary like this is to provide that ‘ah-ha’ moment — and it failed at that.
Which is connected to another shortcoming of the film. There was little trajectory, or arc of story — doom was written all over Amy Winehouse from the beginning. One could argue it was impossible to show a trajectory that didn’t exist in the person, so in that sense Amy may be forgiven.
A couple more dings: the movie hails itself as “a ground-breaking motion picture.” No way on that one. And on Amy Winehouse herself — yes it’s a tragic story. I can grant that. But don’t compare what happened with her to the truly tragic ending faced by, say, John Lennon. Amy is effective, but for an infinitely more emotional and powerful experience (and a vastly better film), go with Life Itself.
For all its faults, Amy — I think the singer more so than the film — did stick with me. I have to give credit to the movie for putting me in her world, a sad place speckled with glory. 7/10