I’ve wanted to watch Sid and Nancy ever since hearing the characters in 500 Days of Summer make a rather amusing allusion to it regarding their own relationship. But I have to admit that, knowing nothing more about Sid Vicious than his name and the fact that he was in the Sex Pistols, I had very little idea of what I was about to expose myself to. Fortunately, Alex Cox’s biopic is just as watchable today; being every bit the anarchic, irreverent, debaucherous, anti-establishment piece it intended to be all those years back in 1986. But it’s also a tragic and heartbreaking film, becoming increasingly difficult to watch as it approaches its inevitable conclusion.
Sid and Nancy is still every bit the anarchic, irreverent, debaucherous, anti-establishment piece it intended to be all those years back in 1986.
Sid and Nancy documents the mutually self-destructive drug-and-sex fuelled relationship between Sid Vicious (born John Simon Ritchie) and his schizophrenic American girlfriend Nancy Spungen. But in following Vicious’ journey, it also manages to document the mood of the day, the punk rock movement, and the rapid rise to fame and spoils that comes with it of London’s ‘finest’, the Sex Pistols. This all helps to give the film an almost historic document-type feel, but one which also serves as a severe warning to anyone thinking of taking up drugs, as the filmmakers never shy away from exposing the full degeneracy of Vicious, Nancy and co.
On that subject, performances from the cast are pretty solid throughout – particularly from Gary Oldman. So much so that, based upon his performance as Sid, it’s easy to see why he has had such a successful acting career. Chloe Webb’s performance as Nancy does take a while to get going, but once it does, she inhabits the role in an entirely convincing manner – which was likely rather challenging, considering the peculiarity of the character.
All of the music in the film is superb too – with original pieces composed by Joe Strummer, The Pogues and Pray for Rain complementing the Sex Pistols and Vicious’ solo pieces – Gary Oldman being credited with the latter on the soundtrack. It was clearly a passion-piece for many of those involved with its production. It’s a shame then that the film didn’t do well at the box office upon its initial release, although it has since become a cult classic. So now that it has been restored to be re-released in cinemas (from tomorrow, 5th August, in the UK), on demand (22nd August) and as a new special-edition DVD/Blu-ray (29th August), be sure not to miss it this time around!