Could someone please ‘splain to me how I managed to miss this movie all these years? Argh!
Since Ken is on a business trip (he’ll get home late tonight), I watched a movie or three that I know he wouldn’t have much interest in watching, either for the first time or as a repeat viewing. We both have our favorites and our dislikes, and we know that if either of us isn’t in the mood for a movie, the other can watch what they choose. For him, it’s repeat viewings of some of my favorites or certain rock and roll movies. For me, it’s anything with Steven Seagal or any kind of Fast & Furious-type stuff. Just not my cuppa, and Steven Seagal just makes me cringe. Anyway, I was in a rock and roll mood last night, so I took the opportunity to watch “Sid and Nancy.” I’ve had a copy for a while, but just hadn’t gotten around to watching it.
Well, shame on me. Feel free to throw safety pins at me, because it is on the verge of inexcusable that someone who is STILL a fan of the Sex Pistols never watched this movie. It’s even more egregious than missing out on “The Boondock Saints” all these years.
Before I comment more on the movie, can we set aside our partisan differences, and whether right or left, gay or straight, black or white, freckle, burn, or tan, Miley is gross or just a kid finding her own way...can we all just admit that Gary Oldman is one of the finest actors of our time? Holy shit, the guy just disappears into whatever role he’s playing. He just OWNED the Sid Vicious role, getting his mannerisms down perfectly. Whew. Blown away.
Okay. Apparently John Lydon, AKA Johnny Rotten, was not pleased with this movie. He felt that he should have had more of a consulting role, especially because he was one of Sid’s best friends in the early days. He felt like it glorified heroin addiction, portrayed a somewhat glamorous picture of Sid. I love John, and I get his objection to some of the stuff in the movie. But glamorous? Not even close. Sid going on the nod and burning Nancy with his cigarette isn’t glamorous; Nancy throwing it on the floor and starting their Chelsea Hotel room on fire isn’t glamorous. Shooting up isn’t glamorous. Puking in the subway isn’t glamorous. The screaming, tears, blood, and vomit isn’t glamorous. John especially objected to the final hallucinatory scene, in which Sid hops into a cab with a lovely Nancy (who was already dead by this time), saying that it was just awful and made Sid’s death seem somehow a sort of redemption. I have to disagree...I just found it sad and tragic.
I love the Pistols to this day, and I have a soft spot for Sid. But he was a troubled and addicted young man. Some would make the case that he was taken advantage of by Malcolm McLaren and the record company. I wouldn’t argue very hard against that viewpoint. I feel that he was also taken advantage of by Nancy; she was also very troubled. I read a biography of her years ago, And I Don’t Want To Live This Life, written by her mother. I think this was a case of two seriously fucked up individuals meeting and being drawn into a seriously fucked up and mutually destructive relationship. I don’t doubt that they loved each other, but they both had major problems that were only compounded by their relationship. It was like reverse synergy: neither participant benefits from the relationship. It ends up killing them both. Nancy is portrayed in the movie as a real pig. She had her problems, too, but I don’t think you can blame either one for bringing them both down. It was mutual destruction.
Visually, the movie was just lovely. Whether it was crowded club scenes, street scenes, or the scene up there at the beginning of this entry where Sid and Nancy are leaning up against a dumpster with trash raining down all around them as they kiss...if that isn’t a perfect metaphor, I don’t know what is. The soundtrack is fantastic, with Joe Strummer providing the title track “Love Kills.”
The movie was fascinating for me, and man, the Pistols’ music STILL stands up. Sid couldn’t play for shit, but he had a sort of raw talent that was perfect for the time. I think he had a lot of potential, but his addictive personality and the influence of Nancy brought him to an untimely end. I wish he would have lived so we could see what he would become. John Lydon is one hell of a smart businessman and artist, and continues to make music and headlines; Steve Jones is still out there making music; Paul Cook is, too. They all made it through the crazy years, but Sid flamed out so soon. TOO soon.
This movie didn’t make me want to go out and do drugs because Sid and Nancy were somehow “glamorous.” It made me sad and angry that addiction killed them both.