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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Amy (Blu-ray)
Amy (Blu-ray)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // December 1, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted December 6, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

The story behind a popular music singer who passed decades far before a proper death has been retold and re-experienced time and time again through the decades, and with Amy, the tragic latest installment of a similar story, we get to see a retelling of soul/pop singer Amy Winehouse in a slightly different light.

Amy is directed by Asif Kapadia (Senna), whose previous effort won over critics and fans alike. Using a mix of old interview and performance footage combined with interviews from peers, admirers and family members, Amy paints a portrait of a young woman in London who had a load of talent and a wonderful voice, and was passionate about music. And to a degree, perhaps the talent or the willingness to perform was driven out of her by her father, who managed Winehouse's career. The film doesn't come out and say it, though it does do an effective job at placing some of this blame at his feet.

What many of us see in Amy that we may not have seen before in an extended amount was Winehouse's life before stardom, and film from her youth, playing with her friends, and her time in 2004 and 2005 before the release of her breakout album "Back to Black." The youthfulness and optimism in her face and demeanor was marvelous. This is crystallized in a moment during the 2008 Grammy awards, when Winehouse was up for Record of the Year. Winehouse was told she needed to clean up in the weeks leading up to the ceremony, and the look on her face when she learns via satellite that she won the award is priceless. She's stunned and then overwhelmed as she celebrates with her band, family and friends. This joy is essentially gone when she admits to a friend in the moments after celebrating the award that it would be a better celebration if she had some drugs. If there was a sequence to point to which summarized Winehouse's life, that may have been it.

While it may cushion Winehouse's fall for the viewer, it does not make it any easier to watch. Seeing her transformation in front of the world and her degradation from her drug and alcohol abuse (which exploded while married to Blake Fielder-Civil) brings the regrets about her life back up again. Like Kapadia's film Senna, he does a efficient job in the time leading up to Winehouse's death, and shows the outpouring of emotion and remembrances just as well.

While there are things in Amy I learned about the singer that I was not previous familiar with, they were sparsely entertaining. By and large the film is more of a remembrance, and its non-judgmental nature, and lack of a real perspective to bring to things, combined with the wealth of video and stills of Winehouse that are available, don't make the film entirely memorable. After watching Amy I re-appreciated the singer and the music, but at the end of it, I felt that Kapadia was more preoccupied with how to tell the story of Amy Winehouse's life, rather than telling a story that scores of people are well versed with.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

Amy is presented with an AVC-encoded 1.85:1 widescreen transfer and uses a lot of different source materials with the Blu-ray, but they all look great, giving the film a look where the recent material looks great without being distressed, and the more recent interview footage looks fine without it, with image detail looking surprisingly good. Considering how the film looks, it was an impressive technical achievement.

The Sound:

A DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround soundtrack goes with the Blu-ray and the merits of the disc are just as jaw-dropping. The music from Winehouse sounds exceptional with vocals in the front of the soundstage sounding excellent and the rear channels bring up the music just nicely, thank you. And the auxiliary channels sound good with little issue of reproduction in the rear channels or subwoofer. It sounds about what I expected.

Extras:

There is a commentary with Kapadia, editor Chris King and producer James Gay-Rees that was not bad for the production information it shared when you listened to it. It covers how the film came together and the old footage used in the feature, and how the cast researched the film and the steps taken to inhabit those characters. There are some production anecdotes and some thoughts on the interview subjects, and thoughts on the tactics for the feature. It's not a bad listen.

Next are a series of interviews with Bey, Ronson, Remi & Jool Holland as they share their thoughts on the fire and meetings of their clients, and thoughts on Amy as a whole. Some silly anecdotes are recalled and Amy in the studio to boot. The piece (53:52) is OK, followed by seventeen deleted scenes (33:25) which show some other anecdotes on the subjects. Three unseen performances (14:23) are acoustic centric and worth checking out. A making of (1:55) to go with the teaser trailer (2:17) and teaser (1:30) complete things.

Final Thoughts:

Amy is acutely aware of the nostalgia and touches the heartstrings at its appropriate moments. But on the whole, the film is just that, at times serving just as one of many tributes to the singer's brief and tragic life. By no means was I expecting prolonged strolls in the weeds of Amy's life, but I did not expect things to be so saccharine either. Nevertheless, it is definitely worth seeing to see the early days and the origin of that fabulous voice.

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