Sid and Nancy

A part of this view­ing listCriterion Collection Spine #20: Alex Cox’s Sid and Nancy.

I’m not a fan of this biopic about Sid Vicious, Nancy Spungen and their tragic, drug-fu­eled, de­struc­tive re­la­tion­ship. The se­ries of el­lip­ti­cal, tan­gen­tial vi­gnettes of key mo­ments in their life to­gether does well to sim­u­late the rare sur­fac­ing lu­cid­ity of drug ad­dicts, and Gary Oldman’s act­ing is su­perb, but I think the film fails in its promise by glam­or­iz­ing their lives to the point of ha­giog­ra­phy. If there’s any­thing in the punk ethos con­don­ing hero-wor­ship, I think I missed it.

If the film had been made 15 or 20 years af­ter the death of Sid Vicious, I could os­ten­si­bly see this choice be­ing made for nos­tal­gic rea­sons, but dude was only 7 years in the ground when it was made. That ba­si­cally means that they started work on the film be­fore Sid Vicious was even cold; and that means that in essence, this is a Hollywood pro­duc­tion meant to cap­i­tal­ize on punk sub­cul­ture.

What fol­lows from that is mere sup­po­si­tion on my part, but I sus­pect that if this movie had been made with­out stu­dio back­ing it would have been a truer story, and wouldn’t have lost money at the box of­fice, be­cause it would have been on the art house cir­cuit in­stead. Criterion has as­sured that’s where its fi­nal rest­ing place will be.

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