Saturday, May 18, 2013

My 100 Favorite Films of All Time #85: Sid and Nancy

Young hearts beat free tonight.  If ever there were to be a doomed love story to come out of the early punk rock era, it is the story of Sid and Nancy.  Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman), the Sex Pistols bassist, loved Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb), and they both loved heroin.  That’s what ultimately did them in.  Well, to be honest, Nancy died of a stab wound after arguing with Sid, while he overdosed later.  Alex Cox’s 1986 film is his take on their relationship, and what a take it is.

Oldman just about dominates any role he takes on, and this is no exception.  He is Sid in Sid and Nancy.  After watching it, you can’t imagine anyone else in the role.  Webb, who is sometimes mistaken for Courtney Love in this movie (Love has a different role in it, but it’s easy to see why someone would think that), plays Nancy as a loud force of nature who essentially keeps Sid co-dependent, though her love for him is not in dispute.  Again, this is Cox’s take on their relationship, Sid’s relationship with the other Pistols, and the punk rock scene at that time.  It’s not always historically accurate, but it is an emotional piece of art that captures the spirit of a time the music world will never see again.
Cox made a movie that is the equivalent of lying face down in the gutters of New York City.  It is full of depressing, degrading moments of desperation, and it focuses on two characters most of its viewing audience can’t really relate to in any reasonable way.  Despite that, it works.  It is a love story and a cautionary tale.  It is hopes and dreams and heroin, and it doesn’t shy away from the worst aspects of any of those things.

This film may not fit everyone’s idea of a romance, but for those who tend to look at life a bit more honestly, it works.  It’s a film as unique as Sid and Nancy, too, and while it’s hard to picture anyone but Oldman playing Sid, it’s also hard to imagine anyone other than Cox directing.  Of course, it’s a bit morbid to think that if Nancy had not of died we wouldn’t have a film, but so be it.  In the end, this stands as an amazing tribute to love and addiction while at the same time romanticizing and deconstructing both.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer:  I did not receive this film to review, but in fact stole it in true punk rock fashion.  Clicking on a link may earn me some filthy lucre.

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