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This article was first published 12 years ago  » Movies » Looking at Gary Oldman's brillaint but lesser-known film

Looking at Gary Oldman's brillaint but lesser-known film

By Arthur J Pais
Last updated on: January 11, 2012 15:37 IST
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Before Gary Oldman excelled in the well-reviewed film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, he was part of a brilliant film called Sid & Nancy.

Gary Oldman is burning thousands of screens worldwide with his mesmerizing performance in the art house hit Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, playing George Smiley, the quiet but resourceful British spy eaten by self doubts.

One of the best reviewed films of last year, it has brought him unprecedented praise as an artist of depth and command.

If you wonder where and when Oldman began his awesome career, watch Sid & Nancy, the Collector's Blu-ray Edition which marks the 25th anniversary of the film. It offers a career-defining performance that also led to his work as Sirius Black in the  Harry Potter franchise.

He is also famous as Lt Jim Gordon in The Dark Knight. He will play Gordon once again in The Dark Knight Rises.

The Sid & Nancy biopic, one of the bests in the genre, has become a cult classic but even those who are not familiar with the 1970s punk scene, can find the film engaging and heart breaking, for it tells the story of two lives gone waste because of self destructive behavior.

Director Alex Cox chronicles the doomed relationship between Sex Pistol bassist Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman) and groupie girlfriend Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb) in the film full of dramatic tension. Watching the chaotic London courtship of the couple, the viewer --- even the one who has not read about Sid Vicious and his girlfriend --- can feel the impending tragedy that lead to Spungen's death

at New York's Chelsea Hotel.

Having seen the film over two decades ago, I had forgotten that it is not just Oldman who excels. Chloe Webb --- better known as  USO volunteer in the TV series China Beach and girl friend of Danny DeVito in the hit 1988 movie Twins ---  has given one of the most dynamic performances of the decade.

Her work in Sid & Nancy keeps increasing in intensity from scene to scene and in the final half hour of the film she is so brilliant that one wonders why she did not become a major movie actress.

The film may be too gritty and downbeat to an audience not used to tough dramas about personal hells and the ravages egos and drugs play on the body and mind. But discerning audiences cannot miss many moments of seemingly helpless anxiety the lead characters go through and they will find hard to resist feeling for them.

The movie was warmly welcomed by many mainstream publications and that could encourage some people to see it now in the Blu-ray edition. The Washington Post called it 'riveting biography of burnt out icons' and Los Angeles Times wrote the lead performers were 'nothing short of phenomenal.'

The atmospheric film is not always bleak. There are moments of genuine romance and humour. And there is enough drama to keep one watching the film without any interruption even while watching it at home.

This is one of the special editions that is short on bonuses. For the few special features include the theatrical trailer and yet this is a film that belongs to a collector.

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Arthur J Pais in New York