I went into Sid and Nancy as a pretty decent Sex Pistols fan, a huge Gary Oldman fan, and an overall trust in the judgment of a few reviews, and the recommendation from Criterion. If you don’t know too much about Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy, you may not want to read on, because this will contain various spoilers about the story, and their lives. I have to admit that I don’t know too much about Sid Vicious as a person, his life outside the media, what Nancy was like outside what the interviews I‘ve seen show, or how the Sex Pistols lived in general, so I can’t comment too much about the historical accuracy of the film, outside of a few things. I went into this film pretty certain it would at the least be a good movie, but I walked out of it pretty disappointed, and ultimately confused about what the point of it was.
The movie follows Sid Vicious from the time he met Nancy, to the time of her death, showing his time with Sex Pistols and his drug abuse. I personally enjoyed the moments with the Sex Pistols best, because despite having an actor not looking anything like Johnny Rotten, or really sounding anything like him at all, the live shows were overall pretty good, and really felt like an effort that went further than the performance itself. What’s strange though is to know just how popular Sex Pistols are, but see them playing shows for maybe 10-20 people. I’m sure their shows were small, but the movie doesn’t so much as imply the important their music had on punk rock. But that’s kind of beside the point. What really hurt everything in between and after these shows was how incoherent almost everything is, most notably the dialogue. Between the accents, the bizarre manner in which everybody is speaking, and the slur of alcohol and whatever other drugs everybody is supposed to be on, every line is spat out and nearly impossible to understand. After a while I actually turned the subtitles on, and learned that the dialogue is hardly written to advance story, but merely to highlight scenes. Some scenes seem so out of place that it feels like an amateur film, or some sick fan film, shot by somebody idolizing Sid and embracing his drug use.
But, once Sid Vicious moves on after his time with Sex Pistols, the movie really just seems to spiral further and further into a messy, blurry, and seemingly pointless montage of moments that no mother would ever want to know their son or daughter for. It’s almost as if it’s an anti-drug movie, or an anti-punk rock movie. It could best be used to exemplify the excellence that is Gary Oldman and his skill. Accurate to the sound and look aside, though he did do a pretty impressive job, Oldman shows us that no matter what, he can transform into a completely different person, and it’s really the highlight of the film, and the only reason why I’d recommend it. His role, like everything else he’s done, is so stand out, and so dedicated, it’s shocking that he’s not more famous, or offered bigger roles. Chloe Webb, who played Nancy, might as well be Nancy herself. Having only seen an interview or two with Nancy, I can compare only a tiny bit. But, she seems to do a great job of portraying a very difficult person. The unfortunate side of this is that her character is such an annoyance, and such a difficult person, that it becomes a challenge just to watch the film. Her personality is the equivalent to having birds constantly attacking your hair, while screeching. By the time the movie ended, I was actually tired from her voice, and her over-the-top, exaggerated worship of Vicious and drugs. It’s just overpowering. I really hate to sound like I’m personally attacking these people, I’m not, I just can’t see the point of the film in nearly any aspect. Was the intent to show people that you wouldn’t like? If so, bravo. But they really went overboard.
Her death was a little depressing, and I will admit that I did feel pretty crappy during the scene. But this is just one of the many scenes that make no sense to me. Now, I’m not a conspiracy nut when it comes to her death. But what is known is that Sid woke up, she was dead, and he denied having a part in it. It’s even speculated that drug dealers did it, and the movie makes notice of drug dealers not liking her whatsoever. But it doesn’t leave her death as open as all that. Instead, we see Sid stab her in the stomach, and fall asleep. Not a lot of mystery there. After her death, you would think that it would show him in jail, getting clean, having his mother bail him out, and then him dying. Or maybe at least mentioning the fact that he had another girlfriend. Something, but no. Instead, it takes a very vague, and very bizarre turn. We see him leaving jail, getting a slice of pizza, and then dancing with three children in the street. A cab slowly approaching, and in the back is Nancy. After getting in the cab with her, it’s driven toward the city, and we see the three children run after the car. After a fade out, it tells us that Sid died on X date of a heroin overdose. The entire scene is a mystery to me, and it sort of makes you realize how little sense the entire film makes, all the way to the very end. Other than Oldman, the film has nothing compelling, poor editing, and virtually no style or personality. It’s just messy.
I’ll be fair and just admit something. There are many movies I didn‘t like, while many did, and I can understand and see where they‘re coming from. I know why people like some movies, and why I didn‘t. But this film? I just don‘t get it. I don’t. I don’t get the romanticism behind living in a daze, unaware of what country you’re in, what day it is, how to walk, or anything else. I don’t get any of it, and the movie really doesn’t help make sense of it. Sid comes off as an incompetent musician, purposely bad singer, and overall horrible person. Totally unlikable, undependable, useless, and stupid. This could all be untrue to how he really was, and I could be a jerk for thinking it. Underneath it all, Sid and Nancy could both be truly great people, but I’d never know, because the only film I’ve seen on the couple portrays them in the most negative light possible, and leaves you wondering why anybody cares about these people. Maybe that‘s the point, and if it is, then I‘m even more confused. But I seriously doubt that was the intent. If you aren’t a fan of the lifestyle, see the movie for Gary Oldman if it’s available. I wouldn’t recommend putting forth the time and money to get the Criterion, and I don’t think it’s really worth owning if you find a copy for a retail price. But, if you want to see everything with Oldman, or just know somebody that owns it and want to say you’ve seen it, then go ahead. Don’t try to make sense of it, and if you’re like me, and Bodies is your favorite Sex Pistols song, prepare to hear the worst rendition of it.