Sid and Nancy (1986)

“If I asked you to kill me, would you?”

Sid and Nancy Poster

Synopsis:
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:

Review:
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
    Sid and Nancy Oldman
  • Chloe Webb as Nancy Spungen
    Sid and Nancy Webb
  • Authentically gritty sets
    Sid and Nancy Sets
    Sid and Nancy Cinematography3
  • Roger Deakins’ cinematography
    Sid and Nancy Cinematography2
    Sid and Nancy Cinematography

Must See?
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.

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One Response to “Sid and Nancy (1986)”

  1. Not must-see.

    I have to agree with the assessment here. It’s almost irrelevant (in significant ways) that the film apparently “didn’t get it right” about these two.

    This is the kind of film that can almost be seen as ‘hetero camp’ – it can border on laughable for all the wrong reasons.

    When it was out on home video, I actually saw it several times. It’s ‘watchable’ in pure ‘car-wreck’ ways. You kind of can’t believe what you’re watching.

    Yes, Oldman and Webb throw themselves into the thing completely with the requisite wild abandon…but, I agree…why? Who the f**k cares?

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