"Peacock" is the story of John Skillpa, a mild manner, reclusive bank employee who just so happens to be a cross dresser with an alter ego named Emma. Emma is not only a personality, but she gets John's day going by cooking breakfast, keeping the house in order and leaving little notes for her 'husband'.
All is perfect in his world until a caboose lands in his backyard and turns his world upside down. Now his two personas battle as John wants nothing to do with a planned politicians rally that will use the caboose as a backdrop, but Emma who agrees to the idea.
The along comes Maggie (Page) and her son, who just so happens to be John's. Maggie longs to leave the town of Peacock and provide a better life for her son, but is stuck at a dead end job as her life crumbles around her.
As the events unfold, John loses more control of Emma until finally she overtakes the man and brings Maggie and her son into her house. As she sits the boy at the table and snaps a picture of him, she discovers that she is continuing a cycle that she is unwilling to let go any further.
Murphy gives an unbelievable performance as John and Emma. He's able to walk a tightrope between the characters that call for subtle nuances that are who the people are. His shift from one to the other is to be commended, as a lesser actor would get caught up in the characters and not the meaning behind their actions.
Page is all right for the most part. Her struggles as a single mother have their moments, but she seemed flat compared to Murphy in a lot of scenes.
I'll begin with what I really like about the movie. The script is bold, Murphy's action is top-notch and there are some scenes that are very powerful, and for the most part, have little to no dialogue in them.
Director and co-writer Michael Lander's use of exterior shots between scenes is great. A swaying swing or a field dancing in the wind between some heavy scenes is a great choice to give everyone time to breath and get ready for the next scene.
Now, what I didn't like so much.
The people of Peacock, Neb. must be morons. People have lived with John all his life and not once do they recognize him with a curly wig and lipstick on? Seriously? If Murphy made for a pretty female that would be a different story, but that's not the case. It's obvious and it's something that really took me out of the story.
We all see movies to escape reality, but when a major element of the story doesn't pass the believability test, it suffers, and "Peacock" has its trying moments.
Also, some of the story gets lost because of being too subtle. It's difficult to strike that balance in a movie such as this, but too many gaps and not enough beats really hamper the story at times.
The bonus materials on the disc are better than most major releases. There are the standard deleted and alternate scenes, but it also features a nice behind the scenes featurette. However, my favorite is a two-and-a-half minute rehearsal by Murphy, showing the actor doing scenes and trying to create the physicality of the character.
Final Cut: All in all, "Peacock" is a good movie that suffers from some small believability issues, but still delivers a very complex story. Murphy's take on the two leads is nice and shouldn't be overlooked. It's definitely worth a watch.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page, Susan Sarandon, Bill Pullman, David Carradine
Director: Michael Lander
Writer: Michael Lander (screenplay), Ryan Roy (screenplay)
Runtime: 90 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13 for disturbing thematic material and a scene of violence
Available now from Lionsgate Entertainment