Sid & Nancy: Collector’s Edition
by Jef Burnham
Now available on Blu-ray from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
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Making its way to Blu-ray for the 25th Anniversary of its release, Alex Cox’s masterpiece, Sid & Nancy, proves itself to be every bit the powerhouse drama it was 25 years ago, only now in pristine 1080p HD. This emotionally stirring drama relates the real-life romance between Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and groupie-turned-girlfriend-turned-manager Nancy Spungen, whose mutually destructive relationship could really only end in tragedy. In this, Cox’s follow-up to the cult classic Repo Man, he captures the punk spirit embodied by Repo Man with far more honesty and poignancy, contrasting the excitement of the punk scene with the harrowing reality of the drug addiction that plagued these two punk icons.
Having not viewed the film in over a decade, returning to Sid & Nancy proved to be a surprisingly moving experience for me. It is a genuine drama that never veers toward the melodramatic as so many films do, although the character of Nancy herself is certainly melodramatic. Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight) delivers a career-defining performance as Sid Vicious, whose search for direction and subsequent drug addiction Oldman portrays with undeniably moving intensity. Playing the Nancy to his Sid is Chloe Webb (Twins) in her feature film debut, whose intentionally nerve-grating portrayal of Spungen is still somehow incredibly touching and tragic, particularly during the scene in which she and Sid go to dinner with her judgmental extended family. The chemistry between Oldman and Webb believably positions these two anti-social characters in a symbiotic bubble at odds with the rest of society. And despite the bar fights, the drug abuse, and the incessant bitching of Nancy, the whole affair is related by Cox with unexpected, but certainly welcome, tenderness and humanity. What’s more, the cinematography by long-time Coen Brothers collaborator Roger Deakins provides the film with images that are every bit as iconic as Sid himself. The shot of Sid and Nancy kissing in an alleyway with trash raining down around them springs to mind as one of the defining images of the film.
Twentieth Century Fox presents Sid & Nancy on Blu-ray as it should be. Virtually free of debris (which is to say, if there was any debris at all, I didn’t notice it), the picture is consistently sharp and vibrant throughout. The soundtrack, presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, appropriately booms when we step in to a Sex Pistols gig so that the soundtrack matches the rest of the film in providing a seemingly authentic punk experience.
By way of special features, the Collector’s Edition release includes the original theatrical trailer; “For the Love of Punk,” a retrospective look at the film itself; and “Junk Love,” a retrospective on the real-life Sid and Nancy. Both retrospectives run approximately 15 minutes long. Here, though, as in previous MGM-distributed Blu-ray releases I’ve covered (such as Some Like It Hot and The Manchurian Candidate), the lack of a main menu on this disc bothers me. The only way to access the special features is through the pop-up menu which then appears over the film itself. As I’ve stated before, even if the movie is paused, menus simply should not be laid over the film image (yes, even the credits!). To me, it’s downright disrespectful to the filmmakers, not to mention the film itself. And what is Blu-ray about if not providing for the most authentic in-home film viewing experience? After all, 35mm prints of films do not feature pop-up menus.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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