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Sid and Nancy: The Criterion Collection

Alex Cox's 1986 Sid and Nancy may not be the most accurate account of the short lives of Sid Vicious (neé John Richie) and Nancy Spungeon, but the spellbinding performances by Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb — as well as the plentiful supplements on this Criterion disc — make it worth a look. Oldman stars as Vicious, the half-witted, heroin-addled bassist for the Sex Pistols, who meets up with American groupie Spungeon (Webb) during the height of the Pistols' short-but-stellar career. A film of two halves, the first part of the story focuses upon Sid and Nancy's relationship with the band, the UK punk scene, and the chaos that came to define their lives. The second half of the film — taking place after the Pistols' breakup during their aborted U.S. tour — examines the collapse of their hollow celebrity, when the sex and rock-and-roll have disappeared, and all that's left is the drugs. Oldman said that he spent a considerable amount of time developing his characterization of Vicious, and even though he claims he didn't do a good job, his inhabitation of the dead bassist, with his slurred speech and sad, simple-minded violence, is eerily transfixing. Webb is just as good, portraying Spungeon with all of the hyperactivity and rage for which she was known. Call it ironic, or don't, but Courtney Love (regarded by many as the Nancy Spungeon of Seattle grunge-rock) has a small supporting role. Great transfer, Dolby 2.0. Extras include a commentary track with Oldman, Webb, co-scenarist Abbe Wool, British director Julien Temple, and music historian Greil Marcus; excerpts from the out-of-print Sex Pistols documentary DOA: A Right of Passage; a notorious British TV interview with the original Pistols lineup (before Sid joined); a 1978 telephone interview with Vicious; and a making-of documentary.

(Editor's note: Criterion's Sid and Nancy has been discontinued and is considered a collector's item. MGM has reissued Sid and Nancy on DVD, but without any of Criterion's supplemental features.)

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