A Nearly Forgotten Gem
Each time I’ve watched this movie I became exasperated. Not because it’s a bad movie, far from it, because it’s actually fantastic. It’s not loud, brash, doesn’t have any explosions, robots, superheroes or a trendy kooky rom-com lite angle. Basically it’s a lazy marketing departments nightmare. That can be the only reason this movie (originally out in 2010 in the USA) gets a UK DVD/VOD release in 2014. I would have LOVED to have seen this movie in the cinema, it’s potentially Cillian Murphy’s finest EVER performance, and he deserves for this to have been on the big screen.
Beautifully idiosyncratic (thus the apparent marketing blackout), Cillian plays John Skillpa working as a very private lowly bank clerk in small town Peacock, Nebraska, that could have been designed by Norman Rockwell. Well Rockwell via David Lynch. Skillpa has multiple personality disorder which manifests in the guise of him at times becoming Emma Skillpa. This is shown almost immediately in a fantastically astute sparse performance by Cillian the deceptively simple act of changing clothes, but manifestly becomes another human being before our very eyes. It’s mesmerising in it’s simplicity.
Routine and order protects the world of John (and Emma) until change literally comes crashing in, when a cargo train carriage derailment lands in their back garden, unfortunately bringing the whole towns focus to their doorstep. The recluse, extremely reluctantly becomes the celebrity, which in turn is the catalyst to their worlds/reality/sanity unravelling.
Somewhat rightfully, confidently languid in pace, and beautifully enveloped by a score by Brian Reitzell (who’s also worked on the Hannibal tv series), that is at times a character itself, morphing from delicate/gentle, through unnerving to outright sinister as the events dictate and begin to disrupt the structure of John’s life and mind. Our tensions ebb and flow with John and Emma.
Supported by great cast in Ellen Page, Susan Sarandon, Bill Pullman, Keith Carradine and Josh Lucas, such pedigree only adds to the annoyance that this sterling work wasn’t broadly screened here in the UK. But at least it’s actually available now.
There’s a also a short making of feature on the DVD that shows the genuine compassion everyone involved had for the work. Where it’s pure abnormality, or inability to be defined, makes it all the more a special piece of work indeed. Seek it out at the first opportunity.
Peacock is on release now by Lionsgate Uk on DVD and VOD.