Theatrical Release: November 7th, 1986
Blu-Ray Release: December 27th, 2011
Review by Craig Sorensen
Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman of Track 29) of the Sex Pistols (as if you didn’t know) falls for groupie Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb of The Belly of an Architect) to the pretest of his friends and bandmates. She introduces him to the joys of heroin, he introduces her to the joys of kind of being in a band. Their love affair eventually breaks up the band and end in the death of Nancy. But you knew that already I’m sure as this is based on a true story.
Sid and Nancy is a film that could have been a morbid exploitation film. I’m certain that had to be one of the reasons it got funded. A famous musician (a punk musician no less – I know that punk was still a boogeyman where I grew up) involved with drugs supposedly kills his girlfriend in the midsts of a heroin bender. It plays to all your base needs. It’s TV movie of the week material. But in the hands of Alex Cox it becomes so much more. This is only Alex Cox’s second feature film but it’s much more accomplished than most film makers can only hope to achieve. There is a sense of pathos that runs through the whole picture and I guess that is to be expected, but there is also a wicked sense of humor and subtle bits of surrealism that keeps things from being too ponderous. There is also a joy to Sid and Nancy’s relationship. It does end badly for them and that isn’t sugar coated but you do get the sense that they really did love each other (whether or not that’s the truth I guess is beside the point).
The acting I think is uniformly great across the board. This is, I believe, Gary Oldman’s first starring role. He becomes Sid Vicious. Chloe Webb has a harder time with Nancy Spungen. By all accounts Nancy was an extremely annoying woman and Webb certainly doesn’t shy away from that. There is still a damaged vulnerability to her that doesn’t completely alienate her from the audience. There seems to be some controversy around Andrew Schofield playing Johnny Rotten but I think that he does a great job. At the beginning of the film though I was kind of reminded of John Byner for some reason. Also, at the beginning of the big “My Way” musical number it felt like Oldman was channeling Fred Gwynne as Herman Munster. Neither of those were detrimental to my viewing experience however.
MGM’s new 1080p Blu-Ray looks fantastic. It’s presented in it’s original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and does a good job of presenting a film-like experience. I don’t see any issues with compression or edge enhancement and it doesn’t seem that anyone was too heavy handed with noise reduction (if there was any). There is some nice, natural looking grain. Colors and skin tones look great and natural. The black levels here also seem pretty good. This is from 1986 and some shots look a bit soft but I believe this is how the film was shot (and would be consistent with other films from the era). The only audio option appears to be a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. It sounds fucking great to me. The music is loud and clear and everything sounds well balanced.
The extras are a little slim on this disc though. There are two documentaries included: For The Love Of Punk and Junk Love. Both of them feature a bunch of stuffy rock critics (and Zander Schloss of the Circle Jerks for some reason) talking about the film, the Sex Pistols and the real lives of Sid and Nancy. The most interesting parts of these docs are the stories from people who knew the two and were there during the time the film takes place. Also included is the films trailer. It’d be great to get some commentaries on this. I’d love to hear from Cox and I’d also like to know what the actors think, looking back on the film.