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Morbid biographical story of Sid Vicious, bassist with British punk group the Sex Pistols, and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen. When the Sex Pistols break up after their fateful US tour, Vicious attempts a solo career while in the grip of heroin addiction. One morning, Nancy is found stabbed to death and Sid is arrested for her murder. Written by
Alexander Lum <aj_lum@postoffice. utas.edu. au>
I missed SID & NANCY when it was first released. I wasn't expecting much when settling down to watch the DVD. I was pleasantly surprised to find a coherent, energetic but ultimately melancholy study of co-dependency, with two terrific central performances.
We get to know Chloe Webb's child-woman Nancy to a greater extent than we do Gary Oldman's wild-man Sid. Not the actors' fault. In fact it's not a fault at all. There is something inexplicable there. Whatever forces were at play in forming the young man who became Sid Vicious, it's to the credit of Alex Cox and his team that they don't waste time speculating upon them or trying to analyse them. Instead, the film lives up to its title, starting just before the relationship starts and ending just after Nancy's death.
The era in which the film was made is a significant factor in appreciating it. It was, in the UK at any rate, a time when the welfare state that had been so painstakingly put into place began to be systematically unravelled, a land where the notion of Society was belittled, in which hyper-individualism was lauded, where any sense of community was being abandoned, and the search for it becoming a joke. WALL ST, the'hero' of which was to famously declare Greed to be good, was released the year after SID AND NANCY. I remember all that only too well. And of course it's not over yet: the unravelling continues.
Sid and Nancy meet in a frenzy and finish in a fog. In between they shore each other up as best they can, two bits of flotsam on an indifferent sea. We're shown only a little of where Sid came from, mercifully not enough to help us theorise about how he came to be the embodiment of anarchy. Instead, through Oldman's bravura, we see his unmitigated charisma, at which the film's unctuous Malcolm McClaren (played by David Hayman) smiles knowingly and which he merrily exploits. We do see Nancy in the context of her family, but again, instead of attempting to use this encounter to explaining her, Cox gives us a sense of how pleased the family was to get rid of her. If Romeo and Juliet had been like Sid and Nancy, the Montagues and the Capulets would have paid to get them married and out of Verona altogether.
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