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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 Johns backyard and destroys more than the weathered planks of his wood fence. When neighbors descend on the scene, they discover Johns other personality, Emma, for the first time and mistakenly believe her to be Johns 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, Sybil, 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 Graham
Stills from Peacock (Click for larger image)
Cillian Murphy rehearsal footage
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John assumes the persona of Emma after having been abused by his mother, now deceased. He now lives alone in a huge, rambling house in which Emma, his other self, does all the cooking and cleaning for him. She even leaves him notes when she packs his lunch for him to take to work.
One day a train derails and crashes into John's yard, and his life is turned upside down. His boss, his neighbors and some of the townspeople try to help him. John's boss, played by Keith Carradine, who is running for political office, wants to use the opportunity to have a rally at John's house with the wrecked train in John's backyard, which John is opposed to. However, Emma seems to be amenable to this. How Emma resolves the tension and conflict is incredible.
The cast is outstanding. I enthusiastically recommend this film.
Upon the death of his mother, a man psychologically damaged by his mother assumes a second persona as Emma who does all of the housework & cooking
Cillian Murphy is amazing as John & Emma and should have been at least nominated for awards.
It was well written and well acted, I was thrown a bit at first because I didnt catch on to who "emma" was, what can I say? He is so good in the role, almost too good for me to take notice.
It was a bit of a psycho-haha logical mindf**k though. Each character doing their own thing totally independent of one another and yet aware that the other existed in some kind of quasi multi dimensional shift of consciousness. Yeah, I liked it, not Top 36 but good.