John Skillpa, a quiet bank clerk living in tiny Peacock, Nebraska, prefers to live an invisible life. Then, in a moment, everything changes. A train caboose runs off its tracks and crashes into John’s backyard and destroys more than the weathered planks of his wood fence. When neighbors descend on the scene, they discover John’s other personality, Emma, for the first time and mistakenly believe her to be John’s wife. This launches John into the glare of the spotlight and eventually shatters the delicate balance of his sanity.
Director David Lander's Peacock
comes off like a combination of Psycho
, and David Lynch--a rather unholy alliance, but one that certainly makes for compelling viewing. At the heart of this 2010 film, which inexplicably bypassed theaters and went directly to the home-video market, is a character named John Skillpa (Cillian Murphy), a clerk in a Peacock, Nebraska, bank in the 1950s whose mother issues rival Norman Bates's; his recently deceased mom's abuse has left John so peculiar (when it comes to social interactions, this guy makes the Unabomber look well-adjusted) that he has donned a dress, a wig, and makeup and created an entirely separate personality. No one in the sleepy little town knows about "Emma," as "she" calls herself, until a train derailment results in a caboose landing in John's backyard. When neighbors come to check it out, they discover Emma and quickly assume she's John's wife. What's more, a lot of folks, including the mayor (Keith Carradine), who's also John's boss, and his wife (Susan Sarandon), who runs a local women's shelter, as well as both the U.S. Senator running for reelection and his opponent, are determined to make political hay out of the accident. Things quickly become problematic for John, to say the least, as he begins a torturous balancing act that becomes increasingly difficult to maintain. And wait, there's more: dear old Mom also forced John to have sex with a local girl of dubious morals (Juno
's Ellen Page), who then gave birth to a son. John, not surprisingly, becomes nuttier and nuttier as the complications pile up. But Emma goes the other way; initially terrified and painfully introverted, she gradually blossoms in inverse proportion to John's weirdness, until she finally devises a plan to put an end to this insane conflict. (The film depends on Murphy's ability to convincingly portray two distinct personalities inhabiting the same body, and he is up to the task; indeed, he makes us believe that neither John nor Emma really knows what the other is thinking or doing.) With a passel of bonus features, including a making-of doc and a look at Murphy's preparations for his role, Peacock
is an interesting journey off the beaten path. --Sam GrahamStills from Peacock (Click for larger image)