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Film Review: "Amy"


The 2011 death of singer Amy Winehouse didn't come as a shock to anyone. A young woman with a big talent matched only by the size of her beehive and even larger reputation for hard living, Winehouse rose to fame with the release of her second album "Back to Black," which turned her stingingly autobiographical lyrics into chart-topping hits. Throughout her life, the singer struggled with depression and substance abuse, quickly becoming something of a tabloid punching bag, even after her death.

In attempting to find the girl beneath the persona, Asif Kapadia's devastating new documentary, "Amy," forgoes traditional talking head interviews in favor of archival and home video footage compiled into the tapestry of a life. Audio interviews conducted by Kapadia play over the footage, and through these firsthand accounts from those who knew her best -- including childhood friends like Juliette Ashby and first manager Nick Shymansky -- Kapadia traces the singer's life from teen to global sensation to a troubled woman ultimately undone by an enabling inner-circle, a gossip-hungry media, and her own demons. Though the film ends on a high note, with Winehouse's duet with Tony Bennett, one of her idols, what's left by the end is a sense of regret for a remarkable talent gone far too soon.