Rob Jones

The Alex Cox movie Sid & Nancy celebrates its 30th anniversary and the original template has been restored with the supervision coming via cinematographer Roger Deakins. The original screenplay written by Cox and Abbe Wool was a hit many moons ago and it delivers a tragic love story about a couple of immature misfits in the guise of one-time Sex Pistol Sid Vicious and his groupie girlfriend Nancy Spungen. Hedonistic excesses became destructive forces as two desperate personalities barely out of their teens could not say no to getting high while at the same time sinking low. Their relationship spirals out of control plummeting to the deepest recesses of the sewers. Hard drug intake leads to chaos, confusion plus calamity and ultimately the sad loss of two young lives.

The peripheral roles of Johnny Rotten (Lydon) and Malcolm Maclaren are not well cast but then again who could repeat the idiosyncrasies of a pair of truly original oddballs! These deeply opposed players from the punk hierarchy would not have been able to portray themselves such are their nuances! However, the choice of a fledgling Gary Oldman as Sid Vicious was inspired and he pushes himself to the limits and this results in both a credible and creditable performance. The severe dieting encountered for the role put the actor in to hospital but his determination and dexterity paid dividends as the placement of a lesser thespian could have turned this exercise in to cinematic pulp. Lydon is a critic of the movie but even he has acknowledged the skills of Oldman and that is high praise indeed.  Oldman gained mass acclaim for his role of the beleaguered Vicious and not long after a glittering Hollywood career beckoned.

Sid was in many ways still a child but the unfortunate volley that sent him in to the darkest of arenas and he was without the capability to deal with a seedy underworld where his accomplice was another hopeless, easily led soul. Chloe Webb can also gain respect for her input as the annoying, albatross that is Nancy and the screen dynamism between the central characters is gripping with only tragedy likely as an outcome. Even for those who do not know about the events of 1978 it becomes crystal clear that narcotic nihilism while in New York residency will bring the narrative to a distressing conclusion. The film is a must see and even though it has flaws Cox took on a major responsibility by bringing Sid & Nancy to the large screen in 1986 and he is to be applauded for his endeavour. As well as returning to cinemas in 2016 there are also special edition DVD and Blu-ray releases with bonus interviews with Cox, Deakins plus DJ and punk historian Don Letts.