Quantcast

Sid and Nancy (Blu-ray Review)

Up next comes one of the most popular cult films of all time: Sid and Nancy starring Gary Oldman as Sex Pistol’s bassist Sid Vicious and Chloe Webb as his girlfriend and cohort Nancy Spungen. This here is the Blu-ray release of the film, and if there was ever a title that needed to be released in high definition Sid and Nancy was one of them. Director Alex Cox (Repo Man, Walker) crafts a most unlikely love story in Sid & Nancy. It’s been about twenty five years since it was released theatrically, so how will it stack up to today’s more modern scrutiny? That’s what we’re here to find out. 

Film 

In the mid-to-late 70’s, the punk rock scenes had begun to spread out through the UK music scene and many disillusioned youth took to the streets in revolt. Anarchy reigned and so did the drug abuse. A little band known as the Sex Pistols gained some prominence in that specific scene, but it was the junkie bass player and his junkie girlfriend who would be the most talked about item during their short lives and long after both of their deaths. Their names were Sid and Nancy.

First off, Gary Oldman looks like a baby. Literally. Sid & Nancy was released in 1986, so he wasn’t even thirty years old yet. It blows my mind. Oldman is a dead ringer for the Sid, and Chloe Webb plays his girlfriend Nancy Spungen. These two would be joined at the hip until the very end. What I enjoyed most about the film is that it told Sid’s story, and whether most of it or all of it was a fabrication by the writers or whatever, it works in that it’s extremely linear, but told from just Sid and Nancy’s perspective.

One thing that needs to be mentioned before I go on is that the cinematography is amazing. Shot by the legendary Roger Deakins (just about every Coen Brothers’ film);  you’re transported to the time period and you feel like a fly on  the wall. The film is mostly shot over-the-shoulder style and with a steadicam. It’s so fluid and precise that you really feel like you’re next to these people as they go about their twisted ways. It’s a technically competent film.

Now here’s where I may contradict myself. I like punk music, but don’t really care for the lifestyle. I understand the concept of what the punk scene was trying to prove in terms of rebellion and standing up to authority, etc. In Sid & Nancy, there really is no message behind the movement or the lifestyle. The film focuses purely on Sid and Nancy, their co-dependency and hardcore drug habits. They were very much in love and they were very much screwed up. Sid was a bit of a moron and couldn’t play bass to save his life. He was all image, but to this day is still being written about in music magazines. Nancy Spungen came from a well-to-do family, but decided to jump ship and huff it over to the UK to live the adventure. What that particular adventure was is never clearly focused on. I think the drugs got in the way.

I noticed Johnny Rotten in there as well, but the way the film is written, it’s not about Johnny or the rest of the boys in the band. It’s clearly a Sid only film. Even Johnny Rotten couldn’t stand Sid’s drug habit which is touched upon early on in the picture.  What is emphasized is that Sid and Nancy were made for each other. Junkie love. It’s sad, but that’s how it is. Sid & Nancy has very cool, and sometimes surreal imagery, including one scene where the couple share an embrace in an alley and it starts to rain garbage on them. It’s a jarring little scene, but makes a brilliant romantic point.

Sid & Nancy can be considered one of the most unconventional love stories of all time, but be warned, it is not for the faint of heart. The drugs.

Video 

Sid & Nancy is presented in 1080p – 1.85:1 widescreen. As soon as the opening frames of the film were projected I was blown away on how clean the print looked. Shot on a low budget and being more than twenty five years old, this new high definition print is certainly nothing to scoff at. Grain levels are remarkable, as are sharpness levels, contrast, and colors. Where it does stray a bit in consistency is with the softness levels – those to do fluctuate a bit, but it isn’t bothersome. The punk scene was an ugly one, but this Blu-ray is far from it.

Audio 

Sid & Nancy is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1. The film’s soundtrack is one of the main stars since it’s composed by the late great Joe Strummer of The Clash along with Pray For Rain, and The Pogues. When the music starts rocking it really rocks! It rocks the front sound stage as opposed to engulfing the rest of the listening area. It’s a nice touch, because the Sex Pistols played crappy clubs for the most part, and you feel like you’re really in the pit. Once outside walking the gloomy streets of the UK, the ambient sounds come at you in a very realistic fashion. You can hear police sirens in the distance, etc. Dialogue is crystal clear, so the cockney accents shouldn’t be hard to understand. Sid & Nancy is a sonic winner.  

Special Features

The bad news is that all of the special features that were on the Criterion Collection laserdisc and long out of print DVD are not included on this Blu-ray. What is included, and I will gladly trade it for the previous mentioned material, are two featurettes with people and journalists who were/are semi-familiar with the punk scene and the Sex Pistols in general. It’s fluff disguised as adulation. Both featurettes run fifteen minutes each and there’s a theatrical trailer, too.

  • For The Love of Punk
  • Junk Love
  • Theatrical Trailer

Final Thoughts 

Sid & Nancy would have gotten a higher rating if the special features had been the old Criterion Collection ports. What is included is not satisfying enough, so it drops down a notch. The video and audio specs make up for the supplemental failure, though. Whether you like punk rock or not, if you’re in the mood for a shockingly real junkie love story then I highly recommend Sid & Nancy. They’re a bit of alright.

 

 

Order Sid & Nancy on Blu-ray!

 

Share

Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

1 Response to “Sid and Nancy (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Solid review. It’s lame that THIS is considered a “collector’s edition”, given that so many extras do exist on that Criterion DVD. That said, very good movie. Oldman is fantastic (which should be obvious) and I love how the film manages to have the grungy grittiness of the punk scene, while still having a kind of beautiful look to it.