It’s time for another Blockbuster exclusive from the store on Wade Hampton Blvd, at the corner store furthest from the Wal-Mart. This review will focus on Peacock, starring Cillian Murphy (Inception), Susan Sarandon (The Lovely Bones), and Ellen Page (Juno). Located in a small fictional US town called Peacock, John Skillpa (Murphy) is a mousy hermit who lives a quiet life as a bank clerk. One fateful day, a train derails in John’s backyard which risks exposing his well kept secret; his split personality Emma, his supposed wife and homemaker. As the town’s citizens continue to pry into John’s life, he struggles to keep his secluded old ways while Emma begins to question her role in their relationship.
This high concept piece, while sounding too unrealistic to be taken seriously on the surface, plays out very naturally from beginning to end thanks in part to its slow pace, introspective characters, and high grade performances from the actors. Murphy especially shines in his dual role of both John and Emma, giving each character different temperaments, body languages, and ultimate goals. Murphy playing a woman is truly convincing due to his soft features, oftentimes the audience forgets that Emma is really a man in women’s clothing. However, Murphy’s characterization of John hinges on the image of a character that, while being somewhat of a recluse, is still liked and befriended by the other townspeople. Murphy plays John with curious tics and erratic behavior while prone to child-like fits when presented with a stressful situation, which should have immediately tipped the townspeople off that something is wrong with John.
Sarandon and Page also bring powerful performances to the film, Sarandon as the tough wife of a senator empowering Emma to break away from the rituals of her old life, and Page as a struggling single mother who had a past relationship with John. Page foregoes her popular “wise cracking teen outsider” image for a more vulnerable role that displays her full range of talent. Sarandon, while not as vulnerable, displays a strong character that embodies the modern woman.
Bottom line: Peacock isn’t for everyone. But to those curious as to how a scenario like this could possibly play out or those who question the roles given to them through their gender, this film provides a unique experiment into the psyche of genders and their place in society.