Sid and Nancy (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

At the heart of the punk movement in the 1970s was a band called The Sex Pistols, who inspired all sorts of listeners to take on a new approach to life. These guys were loud, brash, rude, filthy, foul mouthed, and they smelled bad, but thousands of fans followed their every move. The streets were filled with them, people with strange hairstyles, leather jackets, and tattered T-shirts, all of whom loved their punk rock music. But the music and dress were simple elements of the lives of Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman) and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb), who lived in a world mired with depression, violence, and drug addiction. Sid was the bass player for The Sex Pistols, but his success meant little aside from more cash for drugs and the like, which caused his life to always be out of control. Soon, Sid and Nancy’s antics force the band to break up and that leaves them in dire need. The two have no money, no opportunities, and even less hope for their futures. But they do have each other, although even that might not be enough for them.

I am never much for movies that chronicle the lives of real musicians, but Sid & Nancy has always an exception to that rule for me. I admit that I am not an expert on punk music or The Sex Pistols, but I think this movie is a real modern classic and worthy of a place in any film fan’s collection. The path taken to tell the story uses some bad choices, but in the end, the superb performances from Chloe Webb and Gary Oldman save this one in serious fashion. Their love is the sole focus of this motion picture, so it was crucial for them to bring that love across and did they ever. They argue in fine form, they fight in fine form, and they romance in fine form, the two never miss a beat here. The more than solid direction of Alex Cox also adds a lot to the film, though the writing could have used some work here and there.

His name might not always be mentioned alongside the elite in acting, but Gary Oldman is one of the finest characters in the business. He doesn’t just play his roles, he becomes them and infuses his screen time with passion. This role is no exception and Oldman is almost scary at times, he seems so much like his character. He has a raw edge in this film that really comes off well, perhaps even elevating the movie a couple notches in the process. Oldman simply owns the screen in Sid & Nancy, with an energy and presence that have helped define him as an excellent performer. You can also see Oldman in such pictures as Leon: The Professional, True Romance, The Fifth Element, Air Force One, Romeo Is Bleeding, The Scarlet Letter, and Immortal Beloved. The cast also includes Chloe Webb (Twins, Practical Magic), Debby Bishop (Scrubbers, Redneck Zombies), Perry Benson (The Last Seduction II), David Hayman (The Boxer, Vertical Limit), Andrew Schofield (Shark Hunt, No Surrender), and Xander Berkeley (Gattaca, Shanghai Noon). Alex Cox served as director on this movie and he also helmed films such as Repo Man, Three Businessmen, The Winner, Straight To Hell, Walker, and Death and the Compass.

Video: How does it look?

This is the first time that “Sid & Nancy” has appeared on Blu-ray, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. The film wasn’t given some high-profile restoration, but I do remember seeing the standard DVD several years back. The 1.85:1 AVC HD image looks good. Not great, but good. The contrast is a little more on target than in the previous version. And detail, as we might expect, has been improved a bit. There are some segments with some fairly heavy grain, that do give the movie a rather dated look. On the whole it’s certainly not a bad transfer, but I feel that if the appropriate resources were utilized, this could look much better.

Audio: How does it sound?

As is essentially the case with the video, the audio has been improved but it’s not a night and day difference. In other words, there’s not a lot of actual “improve”ment here. There are some moments when the soundtrack really opens up, this is when the music really shines through. The dialogue sounds about average, a little better than the standard DVD. Surrounds are surprisingly active throughout, though. It’s a step up from the previous mix, but not much of one.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Unfortunately we don’t get anything new here, the same supplements from the standard DVD are included as is the original theatrical trailer. Criterion has an excellent DVD of this movie with some amazing extras. Perhaps they’ll come out with this on Blu-ray?

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