Amy is a film built on two central paradoxes. The first paradox is that it could not have been made in any earlier age because the rich sources of visual documentary material on Amy’s early life and early jazz singing career before her precipitous ascent/descent to fame in mainline music would not have been available even half a generation earlier.

The film is about the destruction which accompanied that fame, that is caused by it/caused by Amy/ caused by what others let Amy become or by their failure to mitigate the personal disintegration that fame and its accompaniments wrought. Perhaps those around her failed to act because they saw the benefit of a double link – between the dissolution and the creativity, and the creativity and the riches which it generated, riches which they helped enjoy. We see the film to in order to see the destruction, to recognise the moral lesson – the shiver of recognising something that has not happened to us but which could have happened – the dark price of the celebrity that so many seem to crave. On the way we learn about her early musicality as a jazz singer. If the vertiginous descent could have been stopped, would that talent have been preserved, and would the vast majority of us even have heard of Amy?

As we experience the film we tut-tut, passing judgement on those who could have called halt to the wild caravan, and on the press who hounded her in a vicious circle of attention, breakdown and further attention. This last element is of course the second paradox, since it is us who by following the story of Amy’s fall form a market for insensitive media intrusion; it is as if by seeing the film we are retrospectively becoming implicated in her death.