Monday, October 4, 2010

#20: Sid and Nancy

(Alex Cox, 1986)

Sid and Nancy is, as many people have pointed out in their reviews and essays on the film, a tale of two movies. The first is a mood piece about the London punk scene of the late 1970s, and it's only moderately successful. The second is a startlingly disturbing and moving portrayal of a love affair torn apart by many of the things which instigated it in the first place. As the couple descends deeper into their addiction and becomes more and more separated from the reality of their circumstances, the film takes on the sort of anti-Hollywood fantasy sheen reserved only for the truly brilliant iconoclastic filmmakers, a group which undoubtedly includes Cox.

This final half is also benefited by having two excellent performances from Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb, two performers whose careers have gone in different directions. The final scene between them, in which Oldman may or may not stab Webb, is truly harrowing, the kind of dark culmination of a film that is earned through an hour plus of character establishment, and then paid off by impeccable staging and gut-wrenching acting. Combined with Walker, Sid and Nancy makes Alex Cox one of the most blatantly unique and independent voices in the collection.

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