And lets be honest – any pop singer/non hip-hop artist that wants to prove they’re “down” with rap music or hip-hop culture always loves to namedrop post-’99 Outkast Andre 3000 or Busta Rhymes (no disrespect to either artist but those guys and their personas are a bit “safe” to site).
Although troubled, for reasons that this documentary delves in to, Amy Winehouse seemed like a pretty authentic person (bratty, self-destructive & complicated too) so it makes sense that she would align herself with other authentic artists even if they were outside her genre.
While Amy isn't exactly a “groundbreaking” documentary in the vein of Stories We Tell, Pina, Leviathan or The Act Of Killing (a few recent films I personally feel are keeping theatrical documentaries alive) it still isn't formatted like a boring/run of the mill music documentary that’s 50% interviews/50% concert footage. A large majority of the film is made up of archival footage took by family & close friends, personal pictures, old audio recordings and even old answering machine messages left by Amy (style-wise Amy is similar to recent documentaries like Black Power Mixtape or Soderbergh’s And Everything Is Going Fine). What I appreciated most about Amy is that we actually saw her love of (all) music (filmmakers often forget to focus on what makes a musician stop wanting to be just a fan and become a contributor).
Director Asif Kapadia also made it a point to focus on the music (sonically, Amy sounded like a music engineer worked on the film). You wouldn’t think from watching the trailer but even though this is an incredibly intimate film, it's still very much a “big” theatrical experience (not saying it cant be enjoyed on a laptop or phone, but seeing this big makes it worthwhile).
128 minutes is a nice chunk of time to dedicate to any movie, let alone Amy Winehouse, so there is a level of dedication you need in order to sit through this, but the payoff is certainly worth it. Amy does carry some of the intimacy of a documentary like Stories We Tell and Asif manages to fit an entire life in to one film without really skipping much (no matter how short-lived Amy Winehouse’s life was, that’s still a difficult task).