A work of depth and compassion, AMY is also a deeply disturbing film. We watched the first half—getting to know Amy Winehouse and to like her—with a feeling of dread because we know all too well how her story ends. In the second half, we watch her decline and sorry finale, gritting our teeth and peering into her eyes to determine just how fucked up she is in any given scene. Her manager and her father condemn themselves with their own words, having blatantly used Winehouse until there was nothing left of her. When Daddy Winehouse said something to the effect of, “I did everything I could to help her,” our audience actually laughed.
We saw AMY in a theatre with Dolby Surround Sound, and I’d urge anyone to pick your theatre by sound system, not by screen size. This gal was tremendously gifted, and happily AMY has an excellent soundtrack: lots of songs—and not just a snippet here or there, but hefty chunks of performance, and some previously unheard tracks. By contrast, the blown-up cellphone videos (some taken by fourteen-year-old girls) at the beginning of the film made me reach for motion-sickness pills. As Winehouse grew better known, however, the footage improved and so does the movie. Hang in there.
The film does an excellent job of showing a relentless pursuit by paparazzi, and how frightening constantly being flashbulbed can be; it felt like combat. Winehouse’s kind of fame is not for the fainthearted, and the singer, for all her in-your-face bravado, was simply a shy girl who stepped out into an eat-or-be-eaten world, only to be devoured.
– Suzanne Cadgène