This movie is not historically accurate. Let’s get that out of the way right off the bat. This is not about the history of the Sex Pistols. Details don’t matter, this movie is about feeling.
The brilliant performances of Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb in the title roles propel this bleak and depressing look into the calamitous relationship between Sex Pistols bass player Sid Vicious and American punk rock groupie Nancy Spungen. The characters are introduced to us in tragedy right from the opening scene, casting the rest of the film with a fatalistic sense of impending doom. These are two tortured souls in communion who seem at odds with just about every facet of society — even the extreme punk rock counter-culture to which they both ostensibly belong.
It’s not easy to tell a story where your two main characters are so easily hateable, but somehow this film does it. I think it is because of the balance between Nancy and Sid that we feel compelled to pity Sid and despise Nancy, making the film engaging in an offbeat and slightly deranged way. Their story is so backwards and so wretchedly obscene that we have to be interested in it somehow.
It starts off simply enough. The Sex Pistols are all about anarchy and they go around beating people up, cursing, drinking, and all that sort of thing. But it isn’t until Sid meets Nancy that things really start to explode as the story falls deeper and deeper into a twisted fit of depravity. The film does lag a little bit towards the middle as the conversations between Nancy and Sid begin to get a little repetitive, but we are then hit by an expected yet still powerful ending that closes out the film at just the right tone and atmosphere.
Newly restored and supervised by cinematographer Roger Deakins, this looks fantastic on bluray. Obviously I don’t really have anything to compare it to as it’s the first time I’ve seen it but I think it looks the best it could possibly look. The interviews found on the disc do a decent job of filling in the blanks, both of the making of the film and also the history behind it.
Smart film. Highly recommended.
Music, Biography, Drama | UK, 1986 | 18 | Studiocanal | 29th August 2016 (UK) | Dir.Alex Cox | Gary Oldman, Chloe Webb, David Hayman, Drew Schofield, Debbie Bishop | Buy:[Blu-ray]