The tale of this junkie Romeo and Juliet has been told a million times before. Countless documentaries and the cult biopic Sid & Nancy all detail the rise and fall of punk’s most famous couple. But still, we are no closer to finding the truth of what happened in the Chelsea Hotel- the night of Nancy’s untimely death.
Danny Garcia hopes to reveal a little more in his latest documentary Sad Vacation: The Last Days Of Sid & Nancy. He’s compiled a montage of unseen photography and unheard witness accounts. Fun Loving Criminals’ Huey Morgan narrates the story and provides more of an insight into the mindset of these skag-crossed lovers.
We hear from neighbours, junkie friends, roadies and members of other bands in their present form, juxtaposed by footage of a youthful Sid and Nancy. All accounts seem to paint the American groupie Nancy Spungen as a drug-fuelled parasite, and Sid Vicious as the naive polite boy next door who was simply enamoured with his girl.
One neighbour reveals, “The highlight of his day would be when she would come home with money and drugs.”
Nancy’s authoritative crowing can be heard throughout the film whereas we never hear a single word from Sid. Nor do we hear a track from his band the Sex Pistols. This documentary is all about Nancy Spungen- and from what we’re told, that’s how she would have liked it.
Garcia also casts our mind back to the setting on 1978 and develops the story on the golden age of punk through vintage snaps and budget footage- fitting for the DIY movement. One of Sid’s friends Gino shockingly reveals that the Sex Pistol had expressed concern over Nancy’s obsession with suicide. We end up playing detective, listening to countless reasons of why Sid couldn’t have killed her including his non-negotiable routine of picking up methadone around the same time Nancy was stabbed.
There are a number of theories and opinions about what happened that fateful night in the Chelsea Hotel in 1978. Sad Vacation’s long intro reflects this with the first still including the quote “Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected”. But that is all the documentary can tell us. Nancy bled to death by a stab wound to the stomach, leaving behind a series of unanswered questions.
The events after Nancy Spungen was found dead are then chronicled including Sid’s arrest and short time after. Other suspects are mentioned including a man who many of the speakers feel doesn’t exist. Meanwhile, Sid makes a recovery from drugs while imprisoned, only to meet his own demise shortly after at the hands of his own mother.
Although the story of Sid and Nancy is a compelling one, Garcia’s documentary struggles to reveal an answer. Though all interviewees seem to nod towards Sid’s innocence, we are asked to make our own conclusions. Without the views of John Lydon, Malcom McClaren or other key members from the Sex Pistols camp, it feels like a lot is left to be desired. Sad Vacation zooms in on the life of Nancy Spungen and leaves you to decide whether she in fact killed herself.