The often tumultuous lives and loves of musicians are reliable narratives for movies that will garner an audience from the musicians’ fan base. Recently, a new trailer was released for the James Brown biopic “Get on Up.” No doubt the film will document the “Godfather of Soul’s” romantic dalliances as well as his eventual downward spiral into drug abuse. Although their musical tastes and trajectories were dissimilar, these are themes that were also evident in “Sid and Nancy,” a 1986 biopic that was to punk rock what “Get on Up,” likely wants to be for soul music.
“Sid and Nancy” begins in England’s emergent punk rock scene in the 1970s. Sid Vicious (played by Gary Oldman) and his friend Johnny Rotten (played by Andrew Schofield) are the artistic core of the unconventional but popular group known as the “Sex Pistols.” Although he wants to focus on music, he succumbs to the attentions of a seductive and disturbed American groupie, Nancy Spungen (played by Chloe Webb), an American who supports herself by selling drugs. They become romantically involved, albeit in a relationship marred by reciprocal abuse, and they both become hopelessly addicted to heroin. Sid’s relationship with Nancy creates tension between him and the other members of the band, ultimately leading to its demise. He tries a solo career, which does not work out. Eventually, their lives become miserable, and during one of their drug-induced stupors, Nancy is stabbed. Sid is arrested, but later released. Shortly after this, he died of an overdose.
“Sid and Nancy” has, of course, a lot of great music. In one of the movie’s best scenes, Sid sings “My Way,” a song originally sung by crooner Frank Sinatra. Sid brings his own style to the song.
Gary Oldman gives a flawless performance. He seems very real as a drug addict. Chloe Webb is equally good as Nancy. Although they have by most standards an incredibly dysfunctional relationship, we see that the actors do portray them as capable of loving each other.
Although it is a dark story, “Sid and Nancy” is well worth watching for its great music and great performances.