Peacock

2010

Peacock

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: N/A

48%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,706
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Movie Info

Peacock follows the story of John Skillpa, a quiet bank clerk living in Nebraska, who appears to have a perfectly ordinary life. However, John has a secret which is threatening to be discovered. Suffering from multiple personality disorder, John disguises one half of his personality under the character of "Emma", a woman who cooks and cleans for him every morning. One day, a freight train derails and crashes into his garden, unleashing a whirlwind of events as John's alter ego is discovered and he must invent a story involving a secret marriage in order to maintain his secret. Young, single mother, Maggie holds the key to John's past, and sparks a battle between the two personalities as Emma begins to take over John's life completely.

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Cast

Cillian Murphy
as John/Emma Skillpa
Ellen Page
as Maggie
Susan Sarandon
as Fanny Crill
Keith Carradine
as Ray Crill
Josh Lucas
as Officer Tom McGonigle
Bill Pullman
as Edmund French
Graham Beckel
as Conor Black
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Critic Reviews for Peacock

All Critics (3) | Fresh (3)

  • While the film can't measure up to its psychologically bent scenario, it's still an intriguing choice at the local DVD store or on-demand service.

    May 6, 2010 | Full Review…
  • Unlike a lot of cinematic peeks into the world of dissociative identity disorder, the script by Lander and Ryan O Roy doesn't spend a lot of time examining the "why" of John Skillpa's life but rather focuses on the ramifications of the "how".

    May 6, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • A surprisingly effective (given its miniscule theatrical release) sub-Hitchcock thriller with an excellent cast,

    Apr 24, 2010 | Rating: 87/100 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Peacock

  • Apr 17, 2014
    I find it interesting that this film is even promoted to be such a dark psychological thriller, and yet the film is named after a fictional town that is itself named after something as fruity-looking as a peacock. It doesn't exactly help that this film stars Cillian Murphy, who has always been fruity-looking, and is here playing a guy with multiple-personality disorder that leaves him to think that he's a woman, and us to remember "Breakfast on Pluto". Shoot, maybe I can buy that this is more an intense thriller than a fluffy one, because Murphy's character in this film is having breakfast in Nebraska, so one can imagine why he's gone crazy, at least so that he would have something interesting to do. Really, seeing as how this marked Sally Menke's last effort, it's always going to have some kind of tension to it, at least to crazy Quentin Tarantino fans. Man, they probably don't even know about Menke, because I doubt they're even aware that Tarantino has editors, although there is a possibility that Menke could most be blamed for the lengths of Tarantino's films. I see that they also brought Jeffrey M. Werner into this production's editing room, possibly not to replace Menke, but to tighten this film down to a runtime of an hour-and-a-half, for if Menke had her way, then this would probably be two-and-a-half hours of filler dialogue, and it's already lacking in thrills because of its being set in Nebraska, and in a place named after a peacock no less. I can go on all day joking about how bland this film is at times, but it has plenty of thrills to it, no matter how much they go limited by certain aspects. A meditative character study, this film thrives on an interesting and sensationally well-portrayed character, but a lack of background development shakes your investment in such a character, as does limitations in gradual exposition that could be compensated for if the peers of the John Skillpa character were fleshed out as components to human depth, rather than mostly near-obligatory-feeling. Really, at times, this drama is oddly developed to the point of seeming rather abstractionist, and that would be fine if the swings back to more traditional storytelling styles didn't jar, resulting in a certain thematic unevenness to go with certain narrative overstylization. Of course, the film rarely loses that classic experimental art drama trope of atmospheric dryness, which begets dull spots amid a near-consistent degree of blandness, and stiffens pacing to the point of a sense of aimlessness, not helped by momentum limitations even to the story concept. This film's story is certainly interesting, but it's just so minimalist, even in concept, and when it comes to execution, the developmental shortcomings, ambiguous style and pacing issues are by no means helpful, and I'd be willing to get over all of that if the final product was at least original. Well, even though one might say that the film is original that it's not even the first to see Cillian Murphy as a transvestite, this film isn't consistently conventional, but to try so hard to freshen things up, this effort fails to be as unique as it wants to be and probably should be, making it all the easier to see the other lazy areas in storytelling. When the film is inspired, while it might not exactly soar, it hits hard, yet those moments are limited, and behind a story that, in order to compel, cannot afford to have consequential shortcomings in addition to natural ones, thus making for a final product that is not as memorable as it could have been. That being said, the film still has plenty of attributes that are not simply worth remembering, but pretty engrossing, and no matter how limited those aspects very much are, they reflect inspiration that doesn't even depart from the film's non-narrative stylistic touches. Well, even Brian Reitzell's score is rather conformist in its style, and it's recurrent, so if it enhances meditations upon nothing else, it's its conventionalism, although that isn't to say that Reitzell doesn't take from solid musical formulas, delivering on lovely scoring that is both tasteful by its own aesthetic right, and complimentary to atmospheric storytelling, much like the film's tastes in visuals. I don't know if the film is ethereal to the point of being lyrical, so it doesn't ever get really art with its abstractionist moments, or even all that strong with its celebration of the talented Philippe Rousselot's cinematography, but what it does celebrate is plenty of nifty visuals, whose poetic thoughtfulness is both haunting, and effectively symbolic, gracing the film with a kind of subtlety that this drama relies a lot on. The artistic value of this often narratively overstylized drama is pretty instrumental in the telling of a surrealistic tale, and while director Michael Lander gets carried away with his artistic vision, yet still not to where he overcomes some lazy spots, his orchestration of style and substance, when realized, if very effective in drawing tension, if not resonance. There are times in which the film is powerful, and even when you take out of account the questionable storytelling touches, they were always going to be there, as this story is minimalist, but still pretty intriguing as a portrait on an unstable man's struggle to live life and keep secrets, driven by subtle touches that are sometimes effective in Lander's and Ryan Roy's often messy script. Even the generally undercooked characterization is sharp at times, or at least seems to be, as the performers are so committed in their performances, particularly Ellen Page, whose sympathetic, emotionally charged portrayal of a desperate young woman seeking a better life through any route she can is at times revelatory, though not quite as powerful as Cillian Murphy's performance. Murphy is a justly celebrated talent who has earned his recognition, but we see just how skilled he is only so often, thus, if nothing else proves to be refreshing in the film, it's its presentation of Murphy in phenomenal top form, in which he utilizes impeccable ticks and uneasiness to immerse himself in what is technically two roles in order to convince you of multiple personality disorder, the emotional instability of which goes sold by a dramatic range which encompasses anything from quiet disturbance to devastating intensity, and makes the John Skillpa character a profoundly sympathetic lead who anchors, if not almost single-handedly drives the weight of this drama. Whether Skillpa is in his eccentric true form as a quiet and troubled man, or what Skillpa believe is his true form: a good-hearted, but sensitive woman, you simply can never fully recognize Murphy, as he is so fiercely committed to a challenging role and seemingly effortlessly nails it through and through, resulting in a performance that is not simply an all-too rare example of a reflection on the actor's true abilities, but stellar in a manner that is difficult to fully describe, and while the other driving forces of this character drama fail to build up as much momentum, to where resonance proves to be more recurring, Murphy remains joined by a number of inspired attributes the make the final product endearing and sometimes genuinely compelling, if ultimately held back. Overall, the natural shortcomings of this minimalist drama go stressed by questionable expository depths, storytelling styles and pacing, as well as by a surprising lack of originality, until the final product limps out, almost as an underwhelming film that would be forgettable were it not for the interesting subject matter, haunting score work and visuals, directorial highlights, strong supporting performances and utterly amazing lead performance by Cillian Murphy that make Michael Lander's "Peacock" a consistently reasonably intriguing and often powerful psychological thriller, despite some loss in potential. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Nov 16, 2012
    A creepy, tense, quiet psychological thriller and proves that silence, suspense and having a chilling performance is the key to making these kinds of movies. Its a shame that this movie was seen very little in theaters and went to a Straight-to-DVD kind of movie. The movie is effectively creepy and the cast completely shines. Particularly Cillian Murphy who gives an brilliant and intense performance, because his character switches to female in the morning to make John's (Cillian Murphy) breakfest or laundry and when he goes to work, he switches to male. The anxiety in his male character is very intense, and the craziness when he is Emma (also Cillian Murphy). The images and when Murphy's character changes his face completely to be a woman is tense, but sometimes it can disturb you from the expressions he/she makes. Ellen Page and Susan Sarandon are also great, but Cillian really steals the show here, and features his best and most underrated performance to date, but sadly it didn't get praised for award consideration and for a low-budget film, it shouldn't be called "low-budget". Peacock has solid direction, solid underrated performances, great cinematography, creepy images, tense music and an ending that could of worked better, but it still made it haunting.
    Angel G Super Reviewer
  • Sep 17, 2012
    Hypnotising, depressing and very entertaining. Cillian is an amazing actor.
    Shawn M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 15, 2011
    Really interesting. The human mind is scary and amazing....
    Sarah P Super Reviewer

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