Amy appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer replicated the source, which meant a lot of complications.
As noted in the body of this review, virtually all the movie’s visuals came from source video, so that left us with less than appealing images. Sharpness tended to be iffy, with a lot of softness and fuzziness on display. Video artifacts abounded as well as a mix of jagged edges and moiré effects.
Colors usually looked bland. A few decent hues emerged, but most of the shots showed flat, dull tones. Blacks were mushy, and shadows looked dense and opaque.
Objectively, this was an unattractive image, but I can’t fault the transfer for that. Given the nature of the material, Amy looked about as good as it could. The relative ugliness of the image made me uncomfortable with a grade above a “C”, but I thought the image was fine given the nature of the source.
Less equivocal pleasures came from the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. As expected, music dominated the mix, and the songs spread across all five channels. This felt surprisingly natural and not gimmicky. Some effects also broadened to the side and rear speakers, though not to a substantial degree.
Audio quality worked fine. Due to the nature of the source recordings, speech could occasionally seem somewhat tough to comprehend, but most of the comments appeared acceptably natural and distinctive. Effects also showed restrictions due to the original material, but those elements offered reasonable clarity.
Music fared best, of course. Once more, some of the recordings meant the songs could be thin and distant, but most of the tracks offered solid warmth and range. Given the nature of the documentary, the soundtrack seemed positive.
The disc comes with a decent set of supplements, and these open with an audio commentary from director Asif Kapadia, editor Chris King and producer James Gay-Rees. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the project’s origins and development, research and source material, interviews, music, editing, and thoughts about the film’s subject.
While the commentary gives us a decent look at the film’s creation, it tends to lack a lot of substance. We find much praise for Winehouse and not much objectivity. We do get a few good details about challenges related to the production, but I don’t think this becomes a memorable chat.
Under Additional Interviews, we get a 53-minute, 52-second collection. We hear from musician/Winehouse’s friend Yasiin Bey, producers Mick Ronson and Salaam Remi and musician/broadcaster Jools Holland. They discuss their relationships with Winehouse, life in the music business and the creation of Winehouse’s records. Remi and Ronson provide by far the most interesting material, as they discuss collaboration with Winehouse. Bey offers decent thoughts about pressures suffered by artists as well, but Holland doesn’t get a lot of room to tell us much.
One frustration: the Blu-ray presents all the participants as part of one long compilation. This means we can’t easily check out one subject. That seems like an odd choice.
17 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 33 minutes, 25 seconds. These offer notes from Remi, Winehouse, Ronson, Bey, friend/flatmate Juliette Ashby, manager Nick Shymansky, UK President Sony/ATV Music Publishing Guy Moot, friend Tyler James, producer Commissioner Gordon, musician Binky Griptite, music/culture critic Amy Linden, boyfriend Reg Traviss and Republic Records Chairman/CEO Monte Lipman.
Much of the material concentrates on aspects of Winehouse’s musical career, though some personal elements appear as well. The clips prove to be pretty good overall, and a few probably should’ve made the final cut. In particular, I like the glimpses of “pn the cusp of fame Amy”, as the bubbly, friendly Winehouse circa 2003 gives us a stark – and heartbreaking – contrast to the jaded cynic of later years. It would’ve been interesting to see the shots of Amy’s happy 2003 interactions with fans put against the later segment in which she resents fans’ intrusion into her private time.
Next we get three Unseen Performances. The disc includes “Rehab” (4:50), “Love Is a Losing Game” (3:50) and “You Know I’m No Good” (5:45). All of these come from a 2006 acoustic session at Metropolis Studio. They offer a nice bonus.
The Making of Amy goes for one minute, 55 seconds. It offers some notes from Kapadia, Gay-Rees and King. This is essentially a promotional piece.
The disc opens with ads for Love & Mercy, The End of the Tour, Dark Places, Mississippi Grind and Room. We also find the teaser and theatrical trailers for Amy.
A mix of pros and cons, Amy becomes an absorbing but only sporadically satisfying documentary. While I like the way it humanizes its subject, the movie lacks the insights necessary to make it truly memorable. The Blu-ray offers adequate visuals as well as good audio and a positive set of supplements. Amy doesn’t totally satisfy but it deserves a look.