Sid and Nancy

Sunday, 1 July 2012

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.