Customer Reviews: Peacock
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on April 23, 2010
As you can see by the previous reviews, the opinions are greatly varied. They all have merit but I have to say I liked it more than I didn't like it.

As for the issue of multiple or fractured personalities, I don't have the expertise to say whether or not they exist, but it is the crux of this film so, depending on your views on the matter, you may need to suspend your disbelief.

Yes. You get, right off the bat, the strong connection to Psycho. Abused son plus dead mom equals crazy son. This son, played by Cillian Murphy will make or break this one for you. Susan Sarandon is present but she's doing what she can with a rather small part. Bill Pullman seems unnecessarily weird and Ellen Page does a very good job even though she's only in a couple of scenes. This is Murphy's movie. The way he plays the parts of John and Emma, I felt, were tremendous. He's screwed up and trapped in a self imposed prison. Through a trick of fate he almost finds a way out through his alter ego Emma. But you see the torment in him and you realize how precarious the situation is. One false move and the whole thing comes crashing down.

The writer/director Michael Lander ripped a couple of pages out of the David Lynch book of film making but as I tend to like Lynch, I wasn't at all bothered. It's a good idea for a movie and all aspects of the production are professional. The soundtrack is way cool and the bones don't show. This is a good, solid, imaginative film. It clocks in at 90 minutes so it won't tax your patience.

But beware. This is not for the casual viewer. If you're into popcorn kind a flix this may not be your cup of tea. If way off beat films are your poison, give it a shot.
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on May 3, 2010
The plot of the movie is a dark pscychological thriller without your usual graphic gore and expected hollywood shocker ending. The story deals with an alter ego or split personality in a man that was abused as a child by his mother. Murphy's performance as Emma is superb. He makes you believe you are watching the transformation of a beautiful, shy and soft spoken woman into a secure, assertive one. I cannot think of any other actor who could have pulled this off as beautifully as he did, since he does have an incredible talent and androgynous features with wig and drag. If you want to watch a great and unique performance, you wont be disappointed.
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We see a woman busy doing her chores one morning, the last of which is to make a sandwich and leave a note on top of it. Then she goes into the bedroom, takes off the wig she is wearing, and the next thing we know we are watching John get dressed for work. "Peacock" might be a title meant to symbolize the main character played by Cillian Murphy, but it turns out to be the name of the town in which John Skillpa and his alter-ego Emma are living their quiet but divided life. It turns out that John is a momma's boy raised by a not so nice mother. She always took care of him and in the wake of her death "Emma" arrived to take momma's place. The arrangement works quite nicely. John goes off to his dull job in the basement of the town bank, eats the lunch Emma made for him, and dutifully picks up things at the store as instructed by her note. Everything is working fine, and then one day, as Emma is hanging up the laundry, a caboose from a passing train ends up in the front yard. To say that things will never be the same again for John and Emma is a gross understatement. Neighbors meeting Emma assume she is John's wife, the owner of the bank (Keith Carradine) is running for mayor and sends his wife (Susan Sarandon) to set up an event on John's front lawn, and then there is Maggie (Ellen Page), a call girl who Emma learns had been receiving money from John's mother. Curiouser and curiouser.

I checked out "Peacock" because it had Ellen Page in it, and after "Hard Candy," "An American Crime," and "Juno," I am interested in seeing anything she happens to be doing. I had never heard of the movie before it showed up in our local Redbox, because for some reason it never received a general release despite the notable cast (which also includes Bill Pullman and Josh Lucas), and when I poked around to find out more about the film I found several suggestions that "Peacock" is a horror film, a label that I do not really find appropriate, despite what the obvious allusions to "Psycho" might suggest. Director Michael Lander, who also co-wrote the film with Ryan O Roy, calls it "an internalized psychological horror film," and that is certainly on the mark. John wants his life back, while Emma is finding that she might actually have a life. The question at the core of this 2010 film is what John and Emma are going to do about each other. As the film's tag line puts it, "If only he knew what she was doing." Your feeling is that things are going to end badly, but you want to hold on to hope because John has clearly been victimized by his dead mommy dearest.

As you would suspect, Murphy makes a decent enough looking woman, but there are times when you find it hard to believe that nobody in town picks up on the fact she is a he. That being said, the plight of his characters is enough to find yourself caught up in his quickly deteriorating situation. The story is set in rural Nebraska in the 1950s, when quirky neighbors were more readily accepted and the idea of a local transvestite would never occur to anyone, even if they had been to the big city (which would have been Lincoln). "Peacock" is an interesting little film, where you will find yourself curious to see how it plays out. The special features on the CD consist of four brief deleted scenes, a 20-minute featurette about making the film, and an alternative ending. As a general rule I abhor alternative endings because I like filmmakers to have the courage of their convictions for the story they are telling (Imagine alternative endings for "Gone With the Wind" or "Casablanca" and try not to throw up), and I have to say in this case the seeing the other ending only confirms my feeling for the original conclusion because I liked the way things played out with all the attendant irony. The alternative ending is arguably more ambiguous, but with this particular narrative letting things play out to a conclusion that is no less tragic hits the right final note for me.
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on May 16, 2015
A peculiar piece. I feel like there was a lot of potential for so much more to happen, although I suppose the point is that what was happening needed to come to a halt, or it would have tumbled out of control. It is a slow-moving film, with no real action, but rather more of an emotional and intellectual sequence. The acting was superb; Cilian Murphy is incredible. I've really only seen him in "Peaky Blinders" and maybe a few small parts in other films. I had no idea how talented he is. The rest of the cast were all outstanding as well
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on April 26, 2014
I enjoy strange, out of the ordinary films, mostly art-type. Peacock delivered on the strange. Cillian murphy gave an extraordinary performance as a man tormented. I highly recommend this movie to those who enjoy movies that are out of the norm. I love Ellen Page as well, she is a very diverse actress and Susan Sarandon was as always, Susan Sarandon !!!
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on April 6, 2011
If David Lynch shoots a remake of an Alfred Hitchcock classic "Psycho," it will be something like "Peacock." I said "something" because Lynch would have made it much more bizarre and creepy, with an array of eccentric supporting characters. In fact, "Peacock" is essentially a story about one person, a mild-mannered Nebraska bank clerk John Skillpa, living alone in a small house near the railroad track, and the strength of the film lies in the terrific performance of the person who played him, Cillian Murphy.

One morning, a freight train accident nearly kills someone. The accident takes place in the backyard of John's house. This triggers a chain of events that disturb the whole pattern of his life - his life that no one in the small town of Peacock knows anything about.

Though its storyline (if not the character) is very contrived (an election rally, for example), "Peacock" is worth watching for the amazing performance from Cillian Murphy. No wonder the townspeople of Peacock - including Maggie, a young mother played by Ellen Page, and Fanny, the mayor's wife played by Susan Sarandon - didn't notice THAT.

"Peacock," directed by Michael Lander, refused to be categorized. That is fine, but then ... what is it all about? There would be many ways to answer to the question, like a battle within one person, or repressed aspects of one's life, etc. With the brooding cinematography of Philippe Rousselot ("A River Runs Through It"), "Peacock" captures the life of a man in a dark curtained room. It is effectively done, but perhaps we need something more than that.

Some call "Peacock" a psychological thriller. It is, but not in the same way as thrillers with more orthodox themes and narratives. Actually, you may call it a characters study about one John Skillpa trapped somewhere. Though the film is flawed with implausible turn of events and underdeveloped supporting characters, Cillian Murphy literally becomes the complex character we are interested in.
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on September 13, 2015
This movie reminds of a person who accused me of doing something I didn't do and continued . Even when I wasn't present during the time I was being accused. Sometimes family, and friends have unknown illnesses and what we think is something simple is very complex. Illnesses can go a lifetime without it being checked. This is the U.S.A .people can and will say no to treatment. yet they harm others emotionally, and physically more so now!!. While much of America will say there is nothing wrong with that person . Therefore, I going to say the movie is ON.
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on August 17, 2015
Cillian Murphy's American accent is better than Ellen Page's natural accent and in drag, he's as pretty as Susan Sarandon. As someone else mentioned, he's sporting brown contacts in this film (guess they wanted him to look plain) but he's still got those cheekbones, well "Emma" does, his male role appears haggard and mushmouthed by comparison. I enjoyed this film just for the sake of getting to watch one of our generation's best actors in such a fantastic role. Support from hunky Josh Lucas and old-school crush Bill Pullman is appreciated as is the but parts from Sarandon and Page.
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The dictionary defines Dissociative Identity Disorder as a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a condition in which a person displays multiple distinct identities or personalities (known as alter egos or alters), each with its own pattern of perceiving and interacting with the environment'. The disorder is not genetically based, but rather the result of a severely abusive childhood often associated with sexual abuse and markedly disturbed parenting experiences. PEACOCK is a little film that despite a superb cast of some of our strongest actors and a fine script by writer/director Michael Lander and Ryan O Roy never was seen in theaters but instead sent directly to DVD. Hopefully this fact will not deter audiences form renting or buying this film: when the quality of films that fill the theaters with 3D cartoons, gross-out pseudo-adult comedies, and CGI horror exercises that grow more droid-like with each year are ultimately evaluated by serious film buffs, then movies such as PEACOCK will eventually come into their own.

Peacock, Nebraska, 1950s, and everything is bland and perfect: people work at their jobs, greet each other, seemingly knowing everything that goes on in this tiny town. In this placid place John Skillpa (Cillian Murphy) rises every morning at the same hour, eats a breakfast prepared for him and accompanied by little notes, goes t work at the bank where he is a quiet reclusive but wholly dependable exemplary employee. His supervisor (Bill Pullman) depends on his punctuality and thoroughness, and his boss Connor Black (Graham Beckel) notes is solid reputation as an important employee. No on inquires about his strange house where he lived with his psychotic mother hidden from the town: since childhood John had suffered beatings and abuse and as he grew to maturity his sick mother forced him to have intercourse with a young girl Maggie (Ellen Page) while she watched, and when Maggie gave birth to Jake the mother supplied Maggie with money to stay away from John. A year ago John's destructive mother died and John's fractured psyche became divided into two characters - John the regimented worker and Emma (Cillian Murphy en trasvesti) who serves John with wifely functions - and it is John the town knows until a strange train accident occurs, releasing a caboose into the backyard of the Skillpa home while Emma is hanging laundry. This 'introduction' of Emma is noted by nosy neighbors, by the sheriff Tom McGonigle (Josh Lucas) who finds John the next day and explains he will help John and his 'wife' get reparations from the train company.

The train accident and the associated photo of Emma at the scene opens the town to her 'existence' and events begin to change: Emma is visited by Maggie who learns of John's son Jake an offers help to Maggie; the town's mayor Ray Crill (Keith Carradine) wants to use the Skillpa residence for a party for his campaign for Senate and Ray's wife Fanny (Susan Sarandon) befriends Emma and hopes the proposed benefit will aid her involvement in her shelter for young mothers. The crisis polarizes the two aspects of John/Emma: John wants for everything to return to the way it was, Emma wants to help Maggie and Jake in any way she can. The Dissociative Identity Disorder begins to reassemble the real John Skillpa: one of the two forms of the personality must be discarded and it is this choice that provides the rather startling conclusion to this enthralling film.

Cillian Murphy gives a bravura performance as John/Emma, so much so that we the audience can understand every nuance of this divided person. All of the roles - Susan Sarandon, Ellen Page, Josh Lucas, Keith Carradine and Bill Pullman - are played with the finesse we have grown to expect from these fine actors. The cinematography is by Philippe Rousselot and the effective music score is by Brian Reitzell. The director Michael Landor is new and as a debut film he has produced a work that is deserving of special recognition when it comes to awards time. When a cast such as this one opts to participate in a little independent film for little financial compensation, we should pay attention. This is an extraordinary film, a film that deserves a very wide audience. Grady Harp, July 10
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on May 17, 2015
An unusual story that would benefit from a sequel. "John" is a bit like Norman Bates. When a train runs into his house, he is knocked over outdoors, caught in womens' garb. Fabulous performances by him, Susan Sarandon (she is always so believable in her roles!) and another top favorite, Ellen Page. The story is excellent, but I wish it would have answered some questions, but I guess what was shown was all we were supposed to see.
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