Sid and Nancy (1986)

sid and nancy poster 1986 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visual: 8/10

Gary Oldman

Kind of glamorizes a fatal love story, portrayal isn't very accurate

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Sid and Nancy

Studio:  Initial Pictures

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  May 1986 (Cannes)/November 7, 1986 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

sid and nancy heroin gary oldman chloe webb

Try heroin…it will be fun she said

Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman) is the frontman for the punk band the Sex Pistols in 1977, and he’s just met one of his biggest fans in Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb). When Chloe introduces Sid to heroin, Sid and Nancy begin a downward spiral that will destroy the band and end up in death. Sid and Nancy are about to become legend.

Directed by Alex Cox, Sid and Nancy is a music biopic. The film was initially released at the Cannes Film Festival in May of 1986 and gained a cult following over the years. The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #20).

Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten were legends of punk and part of what made them legends was the infamy of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen’s fatal moment in the Hotel Chelsea in 1978. The movie has a weird way of portraying the events leading up to the event but that is part of what makes it good and creates the problems with the film.

sid and nancy gary oldman chloe webb

Our future’s so bright that we have to wear shades…or we’re really strung out

The movie starts out with the events after the murder and the questioning with police which leads to a flashback story. It is a rather banal story of drug use and addiction that feels like it has been told a thousand times in people involved in art and music. John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) says he wasn’t really consulted for the screenplay and that it isn’t very accurate…and says it even rather glorifies the drug use. It is a rather odd glorification of a toxic relationship where one of the people ends up murdering the other in a drugged stupor.

While he has kind of dismissed the movie, Gary Oldman shows his early acting ability in the film (Daniel Day-Lewis was considered). The actor is often a chameleon and if you put many of his other roles next to Sid Vicious, you wouldn’t really recognize him. He’s joined by Chloe Webb who plays a rather irritating Nancy who comes off as a leech. The film features an appearance by Courtney Love who tried to get the Nancy role, and Iggy Pop, Nico, Circle Jerks, and Edward Tudor-Pole make appearances in the film.

sid and nancy gary oldman courtney love chloe webb

I am doll parts

Regardless what you feel about the subject matter, the film does look good. It is grungy, dirty, and the toll of heroin on people is shown (which is another reason why it is odd that it does feel glamorized). I like some of the fantasy-esque aspects of the film.

Sid and Nancy is an interesting film, but it isn’t one of my favorite films. It is the type of film that sounds better than it actually is. I do like Gary Oldman and if you are a fan of his work, it is interesting to see one of his early roles. If you are a fan of punk, you probably want a more accurate portrayal but if you are only mildly interested in the story, Sid and Nancy will probably be an adequate dose.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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