Sid and Nancy Reviews
Not much is given about Nancy's life, but she was a troubled child who was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 15, got expelled from college and left the United States for London. This may explain some of her behavior, she was dubbed "Nasueating Nancy" by the press. She is always on the defensive about everything involving Sid, his music and his career. After the Sex Pistols break up after a disatrous tour of the U.S., she becomes Sid's manager as he embarks on a solo career.
Sid barely knows how to play the bass guitar and through most of the movie he strums a little while jumping up and down in a drugged out haze for show. His solo career included one album and the cover of the song Sinatra made famous, "My Way." Director Alex Cox even recreates the controversial music video for "My Way" where on a stage he pulls out a gun and blasts away at the audience. He includes Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren (David Hayman) and Nancy in the audience as corpes. While everyone lays dead, Nancy's dead body awakes and joins Sid on the stairs in an embrace as the lights go down.
There are times in the film when you have no idea if what is going on is real or a part of their imagination. A lot of the film involves the two shooting up heroin or trying to score heroin. Maybe this wasn't the most factual tale of Sid and Nancy, as lead singer of the Sex Pistols Johnny Rotten had dismissed the film as "fiction" and all the scenes of the two lovers alone had to have been imagined as there is no way to know what went on between them.
The film itself is often truly gutting, but just as you feel like you're sliding into a cinematic hole of darkness -- Chole Webb would desperately growl out a line like, "What about the farewell drugs?" or "AAGGHH! I look like fuckin' Stevie Nicks in hippie clothes!" --- and we'd be temporarily pulled back up into dark comic genius. It is the constant mix of harsh realism, dark comedy and surrealism that allows the viewer to survive the experience of the film and the two performances that never ring false.
Even then, I knew that much of what I saw on the screen was realistically done -- but not truth. No one really knows what went down in that room at The Chelsea Hotel. But anyone who was into PUNK or aware of The Sex Pistols "story" would never be able to buy the idea that Sid Vicious could have murdered Nancy Spungen. Actually it would have been more believable for her to have murdered him. Alex Cox knew PUNK better than most and he knew this too. He never intended to offer "truth." He was articulating not the tragic lives of two junkies, but paying homage to an idea.
Sid & Nancy is less about the "reality" of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen as it is about the "idea" of what they came to represent. Cox is applying his ideas to form another level to the legend of these two misfits who managed to find some very limited success.
26 years later, Sid & Nancy remains a potent examination of co-dependancy, addiction, despair, self-loathing, loneliness and true human horror. But in between all of these profoundly dire moments there is a great deal of twisted comedy.
It is impossible not to laugh as Sid & Nancy navigate their way through the mayhem and chaos they often create. Cox even manages to inject some clever uses of Surrealism. I'm fairly certain that the original title for this movie was "Love Kills" but that became the tag line used to promote the movie. And of course, the idea of love as killer can be taken more ways than one.
It is an odd film that captures the after-effects of PUNK while still maintaining the PUNK ideals. Cox's earlier movie, Repo Man, was actually the more PUNK movie. This film is more of a sadly comic ode to a quickly fading memory of an idea that never managed to fully form. And it is unforgettable. Even while it does not present a true depiction of the infamous couple, it is close enough. It is a fascinating, grim and often funny trip of a movie.
It also contains two truly incredible performances. Brilliant. A must see movie. Now, how do spell "holiday?"
Gary Oldman should have won a couple of Oscars throughout his career, and the first one should have been for this extraordinary performance. That guy doesn't act, HE IS.
The enjoyment level of this film depends quite heavily on whether you followed the band and/or the punk movement of the late 70's and early 80's.
I didn't and wasn't really a fan of the Sex Pistols, but I did find this a worthwhile watch simply out of interest.