Sid and Nancy

Although it was described as "pure fantasy" by the Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten, Sid and Nancy gives the impression that it's not that far off the mark.

Video Reviews

Sid and Nancy

D: Alex Cox (1986), with Gary Oldman, Chloe Webb, David Hayman, Andrew Schofield, Courtney Love. "Kill me, Sid, just kill me!" Nancy Spungen (Webb) shrieks, and at that point, the entire viewing audience is probably ready to oblige. The shrewish, whiny, manipulative, and very tragic Miss Spungen has found a soulmate in Sid Vicious (Oldman), the ultimate punk rocker from the Sex Pistols. With their disdain for all things conventional, including life itself, Vicious and Spungen are a pathetic pair and one very potent reminder of a turbulent era that neither of them survived. The truly gifted and underrated Webb, as Spungen, sports the uniform of the period (motorcycle jacket, shredded fishnet hose, and skyscraper shoes) and proves she's not just another pretty face. In fact she's pretty scary with her ratty bleached hair and apocalyptic make-up, but it's the depth of Spungen's debilitating misery that Webb captures in an ugliness bordering on bravery. It's a pathetic portrait, rather than a sympathetic one, with Webb's portrayal offering zero opportunities to care about this character -- except that Nancy Spungen was more than just a character in a movie. Her tragedy of self-destruction is one that has been played many times both on- and off-screen but seldom in such a harrowing and searing composition of addiction, despair, and emptiness. As Vicious, Oldman (the second choice for the role was Daniel Day-Lewis!) also gives a harrowing, repellent performance -- underscoring the fact that the same arrogance and apathy that made him a star also did him in eventually. Schofield, as Johnny Rotten, gains the only sympathy in the entire film as he helplessly watches his friend and partner slide into the hellish grip of drugs and Spungen. Hayman, as Malcolm McLaren, is passive wickedness itself as the instigator who then sits back and watches the drama unfold. Then there's Courtney Love, sporting the same frowzy harridan look that she wore throughout most of the Nineties. Director Cox (Repo Man) ably manages the story and cast, giving it all there is to give. But there's simply so little to care about, and the afflictions that befall the main characters are completely of their own devising. Despite a fairly lengthy list of factual errors, the movie (described as "pure fantasy" by the real Johnny Rotten) is effective and disturbing nonetheless, giving the impression that it's not that far off the mark.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Screens Reviews
What If the Marx Brothers Got Around to Making That Movie With Salvador Dalí?
What If the Marx Brothers Got Around to Making That Movie With Salvador Dalí?
Josh Frank brings the legendary unproduced movie to printed life

Wayne Alan Brenner, March 22, 2019

What If <i>The Texas Chain Saw Massacre</i> Was Really About the Horrors of Modern American Society?
What If The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Was Really About the Horrors of Modern American Society?
Putting the Austin-made seminal slasher back into context

Marc Savlov, March 22, 2019

More by Stephen MacMillan Moser
After a Fashion: A Stitch In Time
After a Fashion: A Stitch In Time
Fort Lonesome will not be lonely for long

July 5, 2013

After a Fashion: The Main Event
After a Fashion: The Main Event
Your Style Avatar would look great sporting these parasols

June 28, 2013

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

sid and nancy, chloe webb, gary oldman

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle