|'Kapadia successfully creates a filmed tragedy out of what is, undoubtedly, a tragic story'|
Asif Kapadia's follow-up to the successful Senna, Amy uses the same techniques Kapadia relied upon in his 2010 offering, layering new interview audio over archive footage and stills from the paparazzi, TV and Amy Winehouse's friends and family.
As such, the film is open to some of the same criticisms Senna was open to. Whilst the backstory is well told by the archive footage, particularly that from friend's videocameras, capturing Winehouse at an early stage or even later on but thoroughly disarmed from hype and fame, there is value to seeing the input of present day interviewees. Kapadia maintains that the documentary simply sets out to tell the story, rather than assign some blame, but few would argue that Mitch Winehouse, Blake Fielder-Civil and Raye Cosbert do not seem to deserve some of the film's ire. There would undoubtedly have been value in seeing a documentarian push them on some of the issues and conflict points the film raises. Kapadia's chosen techniques deny us this.
What Kapadia does manage, however, is to successfully create a filmed tragedy out of what is, undoubtedly, a tragic story. Boiled down to simplistics, Amy Winehouse was a young, successful woman, who died in her prime. That is, by any definition, a sad and sorry thing and Kapadia ensures that you leave the film feeling that. There is a weight to Amy which, even though it likely does not rest with the viewer, will no doubt be felt by the time the DVD has finished playing. Kapadia successfully picks out several chances that seemed to exist to alter the course of Winehouse's narrative. He does not need to say why they were not taken, that they were not is enough and his style shows that perfectly.
The organisation involved in making a Documentary like Amy should also not be underestimated. With plentiful footage to choose and edit, and the new elements to layer over the top, choosing what goes where is less a task to complete, more a talent, which Kapadia and his team obviously have by the bucketload. You could argue that it's not something which you see on screen, but actually it is everything: a film this in sync with its subject does not happen without the meticulous organisation on show here.