According to Alex Cox, his lyrical-yet-grim biopic of doomed Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and groupie/harpy Nancy Spungen was only made to forestall a glossier Hollywood version with Rupert Everett and Madonna. Given Gary Oldman’s revelatory performance as the junkie bad boy who never lived to see his 22nd birthday, Cox’s decision was clearly the right one. As fine as Chloe Webb is as the deranged girlfriend Sid (probably) ended up stabbing to death in New York’s Chelsea Hotel, you can’t help wondering what the Material Girl might have made of the role – or indeed Courtney Love, who was so keen to land the part she auditioned for it 19 times.
None of this will surprise owners of Sid And Nancy’s previous DVD incarnation, which included the same joint commentary from director Cox and Johnny Rotten actor Andrew Schofield. Indeed, the only new addition is Love Kills, a 45-minute Making Of hosted by rotund Pistols expert Alan Parker (no, not that one) and chronicling not only Sid’s sordid demise but his erstwhile bandmates’ differing reactions to how his life was portrayed on screen.
Without contributions from Oldman, Webb or the real John “Rotten” Lydon, though, this can’t help feeling like only half the story – something that could also be said of the film itself, a gruelling chronicle of a protracted decline that leaves you desperate for a wash.