This is an unflinching, warts-and-all portrayal of the rise, decline and death due to overdose, of one of the best British soul singers in modern times.
Although her vocal range embraced many styles, Winehouse was most in her element when she slipped into jazz mode. We hear her smoky, silky voice, often generously seasoned with scotch, singing with great emotion all throughout the film. Early on, a fresh-faced, street-smart Amy Winehouse wins over everybody she sings for, with her refreshing vocal style. She is helped along by her faithful friend and manager Nick Shymansky, who has her best interests at heart. It seemed almost inevitable that someone of Amy's prodigious talent would become a big, Grammy award-winning star someday.
The footage also depicts the demons that haunted Amy. She had a soft spot for hard drugs and this was only compounded by her husband and heroin junkie Blake, who fed her various addictions. We also see how she was let down by some of the very people she loved - such as her father Mitch who is shown as having the best intentions for Amy (who incidentally, adored him) but is also somewhat fame-hungry himself.
The archival footage is of a mixed variety - cellphone clips, vignettes, audience videos of concerts and a few sit-down interviews too. Hip hop artiste Yasiin Bey's observations about Amy shows that he not only understood her as a person but had immense respect for her talent. So too did musician and producer Mark Ronson, even as he'd disapprovingly look on as she'd lubricate recording takes with slugs of bourbon.
Amy's last years are depicted respectfully. Even during the most unflattering moments, like her last, disastrous gig in Belgrade, there is no hint of cinematic suggestion. The most touching sequence however, has got to be her recording session with jazz legend Tony Bennett at Abbey Road, which reveals what a vulnerable and sensitive soul she really was. If you're a fan of her music, you wouldn't want to miss this. The singer may be gone but the songs thankfully, live on.