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Sid and Nancy review: ‘Gary Oldman is still remarkable and Chloe Webb is full on Nancy’

PUBLISHED: 12:00 05 August 2016

Sid and . Picture: Allstar/Cinetext/New Line.

Sid and . Picture: Allstar/Cinetext/New Line.

Allstar/Cinetext/New Line

I don’t accept this view that this was a great doomed romance, but it’s the story it knows how to tell, and it does it with humour, grim realism and poetic flourishes.

Actors playing famous musicians have to deal with a seemingly insurmountable problem: no matter how hard they try to mimic their subject’s abilities, they’re not going to be as good.

In this biopic of Sid Vicious, Gary Oldman has the opposite problem – he always seems to be a little bit too together in his musical performances.

His big screen debut is still remarkable, capturing Sid’s idiotic enthusiasm, his humour and the childlike innocence with which he pursued the task of trying to live up to his name.

He does though cheat a little: Vicious was like a monkey on a rocket ship, trying gamely to navigate a course that was not set by him, but Oldman gives him enough berk charisma to make his presence bearable.

Regrettably, Oldman’s commitment to the role is matched by Chloe Webb as Nancy Spungen, the American junkie and groupie who would die of a knife wound by his side in 1978.

She gives us the full-on finger-scraping-down-blackboard Nancy, just whining and shouting constantly. It’s Nancy alright but almost unbearable to watch.

The first half of the film is a cartoonish vision of punk: the Pistols stumbling around a grey, bleak London, causing chaos wherever they go like a nihilistic version of the Beatles in Hard Day’s Night.

As Johnny Rotten, Schofield can only offer up a basic approximation of his trademark sneer, but none of his wary intelligence.

America destroyed the Pistols but, ironically, the film is saved when halfway through it crosses the Atlantic.

I don’t accept this view that this was a great doomed romance, but it’s the story it knows how to tell, and it does it with humour, grim realism and poetic flourishes.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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