Year: 2015
Production Co: Film4
Director: Asif Kapadia

Not being a fan of Winehouse's music or of music documentaries I avoided this when it was released. It was only the number of people talking about how brilliant it was that convinced me to try it. In the purest sense it's a remake of the oldest story in celebrity – that of the young talent who falls victim to the destructive trappings of fame.

But the reason it works so well as a story is because since her teens, Winehouse seemed not only content but active in having a camera pointed at her and her family and friends. It gives director Asif Kapadia (Senna) a huge amount of material to use to construct the story, and it even manages to avoid the failing most films based around archival footage do, which is that every time a camera is pointed at someone they tend to convey a persona of themselves.

It does so because there's enough material around from when Winehouse became a star from third party sources (lurid headlines, footage of disastrous concerts and photos of her at her most unwell) to complete the picture of her rise and downfall – ie stuff Winehouse and her camp couldn't control or spin.

You don't have to be a fan either of music or music documentaries to appreciate it, and even if Winehouse was little more than a series of tabloid headlines and another tragic early showbiz death to you, the talent Kapadia has for building a compelling story out of the material he has to work with is undeniable.

Special mention goes to Winehouse's father, who later sued or discounted the film (I can't remember which), and with good reason – it makes him out to be an opportunistic money-grubber only too happy to whore his daughter's misfortunes and struggles out to the highest bidder.

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