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  Sid and Nancy Cross My Heart And Hope To Die
Year: 1986
Director: Alex Cox
Stars: Gary Oldman, Chloe Webb, David Hayman, Debby Bishop, Andrew Schofield, Xander Berkeley, Perry Benson, Tony London, Sandy Baron, Sy Richardson, Edward Tudor-Pole, Biff Yeagher, Courtney Love, Gloria LeRoy, Milton Setzer, Kathy Burke, Iggy Pop, Coati Mundi
Genre: BiopicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Punk rock star Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman) is in deep trouble. He can't bring himself to speak to detectives who want to question him, and is escorted from his room in the Chelsea Hotel to the police station as the body of his girlfriend Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb) is taken out in a bag. Once in an interrogation room, and after biting one of the officers, Sid begins to open up when the detective in charge asks him where he met Nancy. It was at the home of an acquaintance when his band the Sex Pistols were looking for a new bass guitarist and Sid seemed to fit the bill...

If you watched Trainspotting and were none too keen on the way it appeared to glamourise heroin addiction by showing its junkie characters having a great time, until a baby dies at any rate, then the perfect antidote would be Sid and Nancy. Scripted with Abbe Wool by it's director Alex Cox, the film didn't impress John Lydon, and no wonder considering the mannered portrayal of him in this (by Andrew Schofield), it was less about sticking precisely to the facts and more about recreating the mood of the times while conjuring up a true sense of drugs hell.

However, because the world it depicts is so well recalled thanks to numerous documentaries, the film tends to suffer in comparison to the real thing. That's not Johnny Rotten, you say, that's not the Bill Grundy interview, David Hayman doesn't look anything like Malcolm McLaren and the music sounds like a poor tribute act. Yet in amongst these facsimiles is a truly convincing performance by Oldman, going the method route and living out the role of Vicious onscreen.

Cox takes the biopic approach, shooting famous bits and pieces of his lead characters' lives to varying effect. There's the Pistols' boat trip down the Thames which was interrupted by the police, there's Vicious singing his version of "My Way" during the filming of The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, but as the story draws on the other people are pared away until it's just Sid and Nancy and their self-destructive relationship, the raw and bleeding heart of the tale exposed for all to see. As Nancy, Webb is almost as good as Oldman, a scratchy voiced groupie who acts as a human black hole sucking all the hope from out of her surroundings.

If this is a love story, then it's a sour one. If Sid had never met his American girlfriend then he might be alive today, is what the subtext appears to be, because it she who introduced him to heroin and instigated his downward spiral where he loses friends, his purpose and his innocence. Nancy is the villain of the piece, yet the affection is presented as something that was genuine as the two leads grasp onto each other while their world fell apart in rock casualty cliché style. For this reason the film is a joyless affair, and the final half hour, which is essentially two burnouts slurring their way through petty arguments, can be an endurance test. Sid and Nancy is about as much fun as spending two hours in the company of a couple of junkies, but what else could it have been? It's certainly not the celebration that the last, fantasy scene over-optimistically implies.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Alex Cox  (1954 - )

Maverick British writer/director who made a huge impact with his LA-set 1984 debut, the offbeat sci-fi comedy Repo Man. Sid and Nancy was a powerful second film, detailing the life and death of Sex Pistol Sid Vicious, while Straight To Hell was a flawed but amusing punk western starring The Clash. The expensive flop Walker kept Cox away from the camera for five years - he returned in 1992 with under-rated Spanish-language Highway Patrolman.

Since then, Cox has made a series of low-budget, independent features, such as Three Businessmen, 2002's The Revenger's Tragedy, Searchers 2.0 and sort of follow up Repo Chick, plus the Akira Kurosawa documentary The Last Emperor. British viewers will know Cox as the host of BBC2's '90s cult film show Moviedrome, and he has also penned a guide to Spaghetti Westerns.

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