“If I asked you to kill me, would you?”
Bass guitarist Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman) falls for a whining junkie (Chloe Webb) who sends them both on a downward spiral towards lethal violence.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Alcoholism and Drug Addiction
- Flashback Films
- Obsessive Love
Having recently reread Deborah Spungen’s heartbreaking account of her struggles to raise Nancy Spungen — the chaotically disturbed girl who gained infamy as punk rocker Sid Vicious’s slain girlfriend — I was curious to view Alex Cox’s cult film about the couple (which Spungen insists she’s never watched). (The film was also soundly disavowed by Sex Pistols guitarist Johnny Rotten, who claims he wasn’t consulted and that the film got everything “all wrong”.) Nearly three decades after “nauseating Nancy”‘s death by stabbing in New York’s Chelsea Hotel, the story holds some morbid fascination, but will likely only be of interest to true fans of early punk. On its own, it’s a challenging film to sit through, given its inherently unlikable protagonists: sure, Oldman and Webb give fine performances as the duo Roger Ebert referred to as the “Romeo and Juliet of punk”, but why should we care about their painfully dysfunctional existence?
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Gary Oldman as Sid Vicious
- Chloe Webb as Nancy Spungen
- Authentically gritty sets
- Roger Deakins’ cinematography
No, though it’s worth a look as a cult flick. Peary’s clearly a big fan, given that he lists this title as a Cult Movie, a film with Historical Importance, and a Personal Recommendation in the back of his book. He also nominates it as one of the Best Movies of the Year in his Alternate Oscars, and nominates both Oldman and Webb for their performances.