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Morbid biographical story of Sid Vicious, bassist with British punk group the Sex Pistols, and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen. When the Sex Pistols break up after their fateful US tour, Vicious attempts a solo career while in the grip of heroin addiction. One morning, Nancy is found stabbed to death and Sid is arrested for her murder. Written by
Alexander Lum <aj_lum@postoffice. utas.edu. au>
The greatest story of doomed love since Romeo and Juliet
Sid and Nancy is one of those rare films that has all the bursting exuberance of youth without all the negative side effects. There are no scenes that scream out "HEY LOOK AT US! WE'RE YOUNG, WE'RE TWISTED, DON'T YOU WISH YOU WE'RE US!?" Okay maybe it has a few, but none of them feel like they exist strictly for shock value, none of them feel the least bit contrived or unnecessary. That is what makes Sid and Nancy so great. Most film criticism stems from reaction to prior film releases. Reviewers like Siskel and Ebert tend to cling to comparisons as a safety blanket, and as an almost cop out for original thought. Director Alex Cox (Repo Man) tells a story of doomed love that tends to defy easy categorization. Its brilliant combination of ultra realistic biography and surrealistic conjecture create a film universe that had not been seen prior to its release. The film opens in a dingy New York City, Chelsea Hotel room. Sex Pistols bassist and Punk Rock icon Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman, in a staggering performance) is being questioned by police about the apparent murder of his girlfriend and world famous rock n' roll groupie Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb, Twins, TV's China Beach). Smash cut to the punk rock era of 1977 London, where Sid meets Nancy in a world of anarchy and disillusion inhabited by kids who don't know quite what they are disillusioned about. After a brief first encounter there is no chemistry between these two classic lovers, but soon Nancy sees Sid at a Sex Pistols gig, jumping around on stage freely showing his lack of musical ability and its love at first sight. (Note: it is a documented fact that Sid Vicious barely knew two chords on the bass guitar.) When Sid, after asking Nancy to cop some heroin for him, bashes his head against a brick wall in a twisted attempt to empathize with her, Nancy's love is only reaffirmed by Sid's complete abandonment of personal safety. Before we know it the two are shooting up the drug, which immediately begins a cycle of codependency that only desperate youth could satisfy. So the question arises are they really in love? Or do they need each other to support their habit? Well the question is answered, at least in Alex Cox's eyes, in a scene where the Sex Pistols play a gig on a riverboat, which ends violently in a police clash with Sex Pistols fans. As the boat docks, the punk rock youth pour onto the dock to escape the Billy clubs. Sid and Nancy casually stroll through the chaos unscathed as if they know that their love will protect them. As corny as the above event my sound, Alex Cox quickly juxtaposes with a scene of pure brutal addiction where we get to witness one of the most frantic "fiending for drugs scenes" ever shot. Sid and Nancy's desperation does not only make us cringe, it also makes us laugh with a classic comic topper that has to be witnessed to gain full appreciation. There in lies the beauty of Sid and Nancy, a locomotive of a film that is always on the verge of jumping the tracks, but is saved at the breaking point by carefully placed contradictions that more often than not makes us laugh. As if the above were not enough to make an engrossing movie, the film is also a great example of integrating historical events into a story without distracting the viewer from the film's unifying themes. Sid and Nancy is a great anthology of the rise and fall of a social movement, which behind the spiked hair, and leather jackets, was a dead on assessment of the hypocrisy that existed in England and the United States circa the decadent 1970's.
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