Sid and Nancy is an aggressively punk rock film, a film that has no interest in appealing to normal cinematic sensibilities, an in-your-face film about the brief relationship shared in the all-too-short lives of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen.
Sid’s a punk rocker in the most punk of all bands, The Sex Pistols. Nancy is an American groupie with big dreams and the kinds of connections to the drug world that make her a natural companion for a punk rocker looking to pick up a habit. Their relationship is violent, erratic, filled with anger and drug use, and it makes for a difficult, prickly film to watch. Though the film follows this general narrative, it’s not explicit in setting up the connective tissue that ties vignette to vignette, so it takes a little bit of careful attention to watch this film – not the most casual viewing experience, to be sure, but a film that demands of its audience.
As performed by the legendary Gary Oldman, Sid is entirely believeable as an over-the-top figure of excess and erratic behavior, someone entirely born out of chaos. Accompanying him, Chloe Webb presents Nancy as more nurturing and soft – but only slightly so. Both performers strike a balance, with Oldman in particular seeming to completely inhabit a character who is, at best, sporadically likable.
Sid and Nancy is an unpleasant movie about unpleasant people. That it manages to still be a good film is a testament to the talents of all those involved in the creation – but it’s not something I can imagine returning to any time soon.