The Movie Waffler Blu-Ray Review - SID AND NANCY (1986) | The Movie Waffler

Blu-Ray Review - SID AND NANCY (1986)

sid and nancy review
Dramatisation of the troubled relationship between Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Alex Cox

Starring: Gary Oldman, Chloe Webb, David Hayman, Andrew Schofield, Xander Berkeley

sid and nancy poster

A box-office flop on release, Alex Cox's dramatisation of the turbulent relationship between Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and his groupie girlfriend Nancy Spungen has since acquired cult status, and following a UK cinema re-release, now finds its way to an impressive blu-ray transfer from Studiocanal.

sid and nancy review

Part music biopic, part true crime drama, Sid and Nancy never really succeeds as either, but then it's not all that interested in exploring such traditional tropes. Rather, Cox has created an arthouse movie on a mainstream budget, a factor that contributed to his future struggles to raise money for projects.

Sid and Nancy has little in the way of a traditional narrative. It begins with Spungen's (Chloe Webb) first encounter with Vicious (Gary Oldman) and climaxes with her death in New York's Chelsea hotel, but in between it blends and blurs recreations of key real life incidents with fantasy sequences. Thanks to some stellar early work by cinematographer Roger Deakins, the latter scenes are quite spectacular, uncovering beauty in the rubbish strewn ruins of '70s London and New York.

sid and nancy review

Rock music has always been known for its misogynist elements, and the dismantling of bands is all too often blamed on the disruptive influence of women. Just like Yoko Ono with The Beatles, Spungen is considered the factor that led to the ruination of The Sex Pistols, and Cox's film does little to dispel that notion. Spungen is given a raw deal here; you have to remember she's a victim of male violence after all, and there's a troubling glamourisation of the man who most consider her killer, Vicious, who appears to be let off the hook in a final fantasy sequence.

Despite being visibly too old for the role (28 at time of shooting; seven years older than Vicious at the time of his death) and bearing little physical resemblance to Vicious beyond a skinny frame and spiky hair, Oldman is enthralling here in a performance that announced him as an instant star. He plays Vicious as though he were a dog, drifting through life in search of momentary distraction. Webb, conversely, is little more than a 'Noo Yoik' caricature, despite the actress being a genuine New Yorker herself.

sid and nancy review

But the real stars here are Cox and Deakins. The former directs with unbounded energy, and together they create lasting images. While Deakins would go on to be one of cinema's most respect cinematographers, this was sadly the high point of Cox's career, and though he has continued to work since, albeit with greatly reduced budgets, he's best remembered by movie lovers as the host of BBC's cult movie showcase Moviedrome, where every Sunday night he introduced eager viewers to his favourite cult films. Cox is undoubtedly a genuine cinephile, and that's plain to see in his work on Sid and Nancy.


Informative interviews with director Alex Cox, cinematographer Roger Deakins and former punk scenester Don Letts.

Sid And Nancy is on blu-ray and DVD August 29th from Studiocanal.