43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 1999
Is it full of historic inaccuracies? Sure. Is it an accurate portrayal and timeline of the events as they occured? From time to time. Was it a thoroughly intriguing journey, seen at "ground level" of what is arguably one of the most notorious "crash and burns" stories of our time? Without doubt. Did Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb accurately portray Sid and Nancy? In essence, YES. The soundtrack (provided by ex-Clash member Joe Strummer), the lighting, and settings serve to push you (I have to admit, for me sometimes unwillingly) through the fall and then plummet of Sid and Nancy. The movie was in turn serious, grotesque, cartoonish, erotic, embarassing, fascinating, and beautiful. All of it seemed appropriate. Throughout, I felt I was in a seat, right behind Sid and Nancy's, on a wild roller coaster ride with them. I just seemed inevitable that it ended the way it did. The story never leaves the rollercoaster tracks. The world just seemed to rush by faster and faster, until it is just a blur. You can't help but feel uncomfortable as you watch the lives of these two characters reduced to a hopeless,"from high to high" existence in room 100 of New York's famous Chelsea Hotel. (Watch for Iggy Pop and his wife in a quick cameo in the hallway at the Chelsea) You realize that Sid Vicious is a modern "Everyman" representing every "famous" and non-famous junkie caught in a great downward spiral. The movie provided, for me, unforgettable images. For all of the other elements, this movie is in the end a love story. These two tragic characters are left with only the deep love for each other and addiction. The love was not enough for Nancy and too much for Sid.
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2007
I think Sid & Nancy might just be the best rock-based biographical film yet done. Better than Oliver Stone's The Doors, better than last year's dismal Brian Jones flick whose name isn't worthy of being repeated here. The reason Sid & Nancy rises above the rest can be summed up in one word: talent. Sid & Nancy is the result of a passionate filmmaker getting near-perfect performances from his well-chosen cast, of welding great music and attention-grabbing scenery to a modern tragedy that touches many emotions. The result is a five-star film.
People are surprised when I tell them the Sex Pistols rank among my all-time favorite groups. No, I was never a punk, and besides, when I was growing up `70's punk bands were mostly curiosities from modern pop culture history, but I do like the music the Sex Pistols produced on their one and only legitimate album, and the film Sid & Nancy, much criticized by pompous purists and much praised by most everyone else, is a chronicle of that era and two of its most infamously doomed participants. The chameleonic Gary Oldman brings Sid Vicious not only to life, he somehow surpasses the original to vicariously embody a character more memorable than the flesh and blood young man on whom the role is based. Likewise Chloe Webb (who really deserved better career choices than she got after this movie) brings the manic-depressive Nancy Spungen back from the grave in all her alienating, irritatingly pathetic hideousness.
Some say this movie takes liberties with the timeline of Sid and Nancy's short lives, and others say it manages to glamorize them for the wrong things. Probably legitimate gripes, I'll grant, but there are also those who refuse to see the greatness in, say, Shakespeare's Richard III, because the fictionalized villain bears scant resemblance to the real man. That's much the same case here. For all one might say in criticism of this movie, Alex Cox did the impossible and revived the decaying, culture-shocked world of 1970's London, and against that stage he crafted a story that works well. Sid & Nancy is about drugs, music, twisted love between two misfit human beings, needless death, and a revolutionary movement that imploded on its nihilism even as its message was lost on the masses. Sid & Nancy is not only about Sid and Nancy, so emblematic of their time and place, it is the tragic chronicle of the spirit of misguided post-adolescent reaction against a dismal age.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2007
What I enjoyed most about Sid and Nancy was the profile of the Sex Pistols who (unfortunately) are only a vicarious part of the plot. I know that Johnny Lydon did not approve of this film, but I absolutely loved Schofield's portrayal of him here. In fact, he almost steals the spotlight from the train wreck that is the relationship between the main protagonists. I also thought that technically this film was outstanding. My favorite scene involved the press/party boat. After it was forcibly docked, the shot of Sid and Nancy gliding through the melee was exceptional. This movie has something in common with all period pieces we remember--it is incredibly well-done. My own appreciation for the film, however, was sabotaged by the fact that I was not even remotely interested in the love affair between Sid and Nancy. I found the gradual disintegration of their lives to rather depressing.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2005
I think many people don't have the right feelings about this film. Empathy being one of them. Although Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungeon could indeed be described as two wastes of sperm and eggs, empty and apathetic as they lie on their beds strung out on heroin in one scene, we have to acknowledge their backgrounds and their ages. Sid, bassist with 70s punk band The Sex Pistols and Nancy, his American groupie girlfriend, were just a pair of misguided teenagers. Nobody is perfect at the age of nineteen or twenty, nobody really knows exactly what they want to do in life. And there are a lot of young people, who at that age, can't see a future for themselves.
We may very well say drugs are bad and drug addicts deserve no respect, both of the above being true. But the fact is that this is being too narrow minded. Those of us who have had wonderful childhoods and loving parents to guide us through those turbulent teenage years may scoff and scorn at the films title characters, as we see them embark on the doomed journey of drug abuse with only one end in mind. Sid might have been an intelligent, bright and witty young man, Nancy could have had the chance to fix her life if her parents hadn't given up on her and sent her packing. This film is a remarkable movie, one that should be watched with empathy, as it replays the ill fated romance of punk's 'Romeo and Juliet' I understand John Lydon when he scorned the film, but no movie can ever capture real life. As a teenager recovering from the draining world of drugs, depression and apathy, I have to say that this movie accurately portrays the effects of drug abuse.
The drugs do eventually end up taking control of you, and there is nothing more dangerous than having a friend or lover who feels the same despair that you do. Trying to escape the dark hole of drugs seems almost impossible in that scenario. I think this film is an excellent portrayal of the effects of drug abuse, of the 70s punk scene, of the blurry details surrounding Nancy's death.
It's a pity the film was given an R rating, because a lot more young people should see this movie. Sex Pistols fans may also ike to see this movie, maybe to gain an idea of the helplessness of Sid and Nancy's situation. For all those drug addicts out there, I just wanna say, you should see this film before you "climb the ladder to the poppy". During a time when I was stupid enough to want to become a junkie, this movie saved my life. The scene that hit me the hardest was one of the last, where Sid tries desperately to get out of the hotel room he and Nancy share, tries desperately to escape Nancy's rantings of death, before engaging in the scuffle that got her killed.
It may or may not have happened in real life, but I had never felt so suffocated watching a movie before, watching helplessly as Sid's fingers reach for the latch on the door but don't quite make it. I won't give the ending away, but many people have scoffed it. I think it worked very well and understood and exactly the irony that Alex Cox was getting at. Maybe some of you will understand it too. But you have to watch it to find out..You can watch this movie with feelings of disgust, scorn, helplessness and sadness. But this move made me personally, empathise with Sid and Nancy, two lost children in a vast world, searching for something that can't be found. And although many punks made it through the seventies, supress your contempt when watching this movie, and feel sadness for those who didn't.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2006
Probably the benchmark of the punk rock movie genre is this beautifully lyrical love story of destruction. If you're reading this review, you probably don't need the plot spelled out for you, but for those who need it: Sid was the bassist for the original English punk band, the Sex Pistols, and Nancy was the groupie/girlfriend who sent him spiraling to self-destruction. The film is based on their true romance, and is a heartbreaking and aching portrayal of nihilism and narcissism.
Gary Oldman, back when he was a lean and hungry actor at the top of his craft, puts in a stunning tour de force performance as doomed druggie Sid Vicious, while Courtney Love has a pre-fame bit part as groupie Gretchen (a precursor to her real later life with Kurt Cobain, as detailed in Nick Broomfield's "Kurt and Courtney").
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2007
This has got to be the best film that I've seen about drug addiction and the emptiness of people who fall into it. The decline and death of the protagonists are frightening and depressing, so well acted that it is horribly, completely believable. Oldam and Webb are simply brilliant. Webb is totally believable as a border line personality, at times sensitive, but suddenly abusive and paranoid - it is subtle and perfectly acted.
But the film is much more than that. There is also a twisted love between two people who can only be described as complete losers: Sid, who is nothing but a youth disaster become celebrity by chance and Nancy, a suburban cast-off who has wandered into the drug world, S&M for pay, and a pathetic search for groupie association with stardom. While almost nothing on their own, together they enter a downward spiral that can result only in death. Together they are far worse than zero. You helplessly witness their descent into a hell of addiction and chaos.
Finally, there is a wonderful evocation of their milieu: the late-70s punk scene. I recall, as a middle-aged man, how this was the first youth movement in which I had no desire to participate: I had been a late-comer hippy and was aspiring to academia when this started. It was the first "movement" that repulsed me personally, that I had no desire whatsoever to mimic. In this film, you see how talentless and nihilistic punk really was, but also how it had the raw energy of urban youth in societies that could offer them nothing of value. Gone are the ideals and dreams of the 60s. Their chaos and drugs and indirection in the end were all that they had, so they lived it unto self-destruction. Their scene, as portrayed in this film, was a revelation to me and is brilliantly evoked.
Reccommended with enthusiasm. This is like a modern Balzacian tale of meaningless annihilation, a rememberance of a time, and a perfect work of art.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I love the Sex Pistols and the whole british punk movement of the 1970's. I think Johnny Rotten wrote the greatest lyrics for the band and Cook & Jones are the true backbone musicly of the Sex Pistols. Glen Matlock certainly got cheated and so did the band when Sid Vicious joined as their, ahem, "Bass Player." (Was glad to see Glen was back for the reunion tour and you can hear his great bass work on Filthy Lucre Live=plus hear the band as a four piece rather than the Sid version with a singer, drummer, guitarist and a fashion plate standing stage left.)
I love Alex Cox's RepoMan film and when I read he did the "Sid & Nancy" film, I bought it. The two that play Sid & Nancy did a fine job. I liked that Courtney Love had a bit part in it too. The story is crazy yet amusing. It is a demented love story that was based around nothing but Sex, Drugs and (Punk) Rock N' Roll. But the Rock N' Roll (as in music) was pretty much left out, since Sid really wasn't a musician. Sid befriended Johnny Rotten and got him to join the band after they parted with Glen Matlock. Here in the film, you see that Johnny, Paul & Steve were probably thinking it was a HUGE mistake having Sid in the band, plus they had to deal with his girl, Nancy.
Just goes to show you the devestating effect drugs can have on the poeple that use them and the heartache it can bring to others. Sid had a role in the disbanding of one of the most important bands in rock history and possibly had a hand in the death of his girlfriend. Did someone else visit Sid and Nancy and got high together and killed Nancy? Did Sid just hold a knife and Nancy went to jump on him during a fight and was accidently stabbed by Sid? Only Sid & Nancy know. One thing is for sure, they were certainly made for each other and both had a death wish.
As far as the acting, I wished they picked better poeple to play the other Sex pistols. The guy who played Johnny was okay but he should have played it more obnoxious. The Sex Pistol songs done for the movie by other musicians are very sterile sounding without any punk bite. Same goes for X Ray Spex "Oh Bondage, Up Yours!". I didn't like that Johnny Rotten was kinda portrayed a bit wimpy, too. But the feel and crazyness of the film is cool and it's pretty much a derranged story that has some memorable scenes and is great to watch alot just for those.
This movie is certainly a cult classic. If you like movies such as Repo Man, Heathers and Pump Up the Volume, you will enjoy Sid & Nancy.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2006
An autobiographical account of the doomed relationship between Sid and Nancy (precursors to Kurt and Courtney in pop culture lore) ... who met their demise in New York City after a binge of drugs and booze. Gary Oldman recreates the viscous demons that made Sid a Rock 'n Roll icon after his death. Chloe Webb is a brilliant Nancy (actually Courtney Love was rumored to have auditioned for the part in her early 20's) ... who helps Sid's demise even more.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2001
I saw this movie for the first time when I was but a lad of 14. It made quite an impression, and I have been a Gary Oldman fan ever since. If you too find him to be one of the finest actors of our time, then you too should see this incredible debut performance. He plays Sid Vicious so well, it's hard to picture the real Sid Vicious dead.
The movie follows the fateful punk rocker from the beginnings of the Sex Pistols, through his lack luster solo career, and to the eventual deaths of both Nancy Spungen, and himself. Throughout, the bizarre, and self-destructive relationship threatens to rip the whole story apart. Webb does an awesome job playing Nancy Spungen, and is at times so bloody annoying you wouldn't mind stabbing her to death in some seedy hotel room in NYC either.
This movie is quite draining though, as it's long, and as I've said, depressing. But the writing, directing, and acting are all superb. For all of you out there who want to know more of the story, you should check out a book called "And I don't want to live this life." It was written by Deborah Spungen (Nancy Spungens mom), and it chronicles Nancy's' turbulent life from beginning to end. A good read.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2000
I first saw this movie at age eleven having hired it out on video due to my two year love affair with the Sex Pistols. While I enjoyed it (despite it being the bummer that it is), I found it hard to be completely engrossed due to the number of historical inaccuracies contained within it. However certain scenes and images seared themselves into my mind enough to see it several more times and ultimately (years later) get this DVD edition.
While having a historical base to work from, director Alex Cox has seemingly decided to approach more the aura of the era and not the details (the exceptionally accurate wardrobe not withsatnding) and by doing so has created a nightmare of a film in which fantasy and reality are hopelessly blurred.
This carries the film on several different levels, aiding and abetting the story in the process. For example, incidents like the Jubilee Boat Cruise are true, but not portrayed totally accurately. Despite Sid's shortcomings as a muscian, I don't believe they would play without him. I've seen footage of Sid leaving that boat alone, but here he leaves with Nancy etc.
However, by doing so (or perhaps in spite of) the film create some absolutley haunting scenes. The bit when Sid first shoots up, Nancy and Sid kissing under a hail-storm of trash, the couple walking from the Jubilee Boat and into the night, Sid slashing himself while a bevy of groupies wait around in his hotel room and the incredibly moving ending. Each of these scenes is rendered all the more poignant by the music and both stick with you for a long time. In a way, it is appropriate for a character such as Sid who did confuse fantasy and reality to such a degree to have a biopic made the same way and indeed by doing so the film avoids having to form conclusions for the viewer, making it all the better for it.
As mentioned in the commentary and displayed somewhat in the DVD liner notes, the film is split into two halves, with the first setting up the period and story, while the second is like a descent into hell. When I was younger I found I could watch the first half quite frequently while the second half only now and again. It's that unnerving (and depressing), but it is also exceptionally well-handled. Cox allows some trite moments to creep in (like the guy from "Repo Man" talking about heroin), but overall the film doesn't look contrived and plotted, it just unwinds infront of you while you try and take it all in. Almost like sitting in the corner of their apartment and watching.
Both Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb are exceptional in their roles and this is one of the few times in which you forget you're watching actors and are just transfixed at the screen. The extras on the DVD are top-notch, especially the clip from the Bill Grundy show and the real interviews from Sid.
Overall, this is an amazing film, containing Gary Oldman singing, bravura performances from the leads, good music, a love story the likes of which I've never seen elsewhere, a historical context (if not always accurate) and above all some of the most haunting images I've ever seen. Believe me scenes and music from this will be burnt into your brain for awhile, and especially in this era of multiplex fiascoes that is a very good thing.
NB: I can't believe that after this and Repo Man, Alex Cox hasn't done better.