Amy, like Senna, is another tremendously involving piece of screen storytelling, in which Kapadia pieces together a narrative as thoroughly compelling as any fiction film could ever hope to be. It’s slightly less deifying in its approach to its subject, which is refreshing to see, especially as it deals with history recent enough for people watching it now to be able to pick apart pretty comprehensively if it tried to drastically alter the chronicling of a life that thanks to 21st century mass media we all saw fall apart for years (I think it does skirt over the final couple of years a little too simply, which is my only issue with the film)

Yet, in spite of the fact that the world did indeed see Amy Winehouse fall to pieces, what makes this movie worth watching is the way that through interviews and archive video Kapadia pieces together Amy’s life behind the scenes, and the tale it comes out telling is pretty horrifying. While Senna crafted history into a hero versus villain story, Amy bears a more than passing resemblance to Nick Broomfield’s first Aileen Wuornos documentary, The Selling of a Serial Killer, in the way that without making excuses for our central figure the filmmaker instead delves into the nature of those surrounding her, exposing the cracks in the foundation.

I don’t think it’d be too dramatic to say that the film is an almost total character assassination of Winehouse’s father, Mitch, and to a slightly lesser degree, in perhaps somewhat more balanced fashion, her ex-husband Blake. It’s shocking to see both men involved in the production, both contributing their own testimony in audio, and spliced into the film via their own video footage, and considering the number of people from which the film reaches for perspective it is tough to argue with the validity of what we see.

As he did with Senna, Kapadia has put together this film exclusively from archival video footage, and audio of interviews with friends and family, various managers and executives, and hangers on that rode the Winehouse train over the years. There’s no talking heads, there’s no narrator, and so while it’d be stupid to assume that we’re watching a film without an agenda, it’s certainly a far more immersive experience that you get caught up in without the interruption of any staged or scripted asides set up by the director.

The most obvious, powerful, and effective direction that Kapadia takes with the material is the way he intersperses Amy’s music throughout the movie, at times flashing the lyrics up on the screen, each song coming at a time in the film where the words she’s written, or the ones she’s singing reflect the part of her life that’s just been covered. It’s a beautiful advertisement for an artist’s undeniable authenticity, for a woman who wrote and sang what she lived, and it makes the tragedy of everything else in the movie that much more sad.