Peacock is a strange, character-driven film. It’s the story of John (Cillian Murphy), a man who is suffering from multiple personalities disorder. He only has one other self, but that self happens to be a woman named Emma.
Living in a large home all by himself after the death of his mother, John lives a quiet existence. He rides his bike to work at the town bank and comes home. He tries to speak to as few people as possible and has a terrible case of social anxiety.
Emma, on the other hand, doesn’t leave the house. She peaks at families and children from behind a constantly closed living room drape. One day while hanging laundry in her fenced-in backyard, a train derailment occurs that results in one of the cars crashing through her fence and almost taking her life. The main problem that surfaces is that town people have now seen Emma.
Most of the town is aware that John lives alone and would have no reason to expect a woman to be living in his home. Emma and John don’t correct others when they assume that Emma is John’s wife. Oddly, no one notices the similarities in their appearances. After the train incident, Emma starts showing herself to the public more often and this causes a huge problem for John. Emma is making decisions on their behalf and is taking up more time in their body than John is.
Things get more complicated when a woman from John’s past shows up at the door asking for money. Maggie (Ellen Page) tells John that his mother had been sending her checks on a regular basis. Shortly thereafter, John goes upstairs and Emma comes back down.
The struggle to keep one person in John’s body is becoming more and more difficult. Emma is determined to be the main identity and John will do whatever he can to make sure that doesn’t happen.
This film was really odd, but Murphy was fantastic as he tackled this dual role. Every character he plays has a creepy quality to them and these roles were no different. He showcased all of John’s insecurities in a bold and vivid way. With Emma, he was able to be timid and reserved.
I didn’t care for Page in this film. Her performance wasn’t awful, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around the character she was playing. Her role was small, but pivotal to the film. I’ve gotten used to her crass attitude based on some of the more recent characters she’s played (Juno, Smart People), that this restrained role was not wowing me.
The additional supporting cast was admirable (Susan Sarandon, Josh Lucas, Bill Pullman), but the movie didn’t really suit their talents. The film moved pretty slow and although there were mysterious moments, nothing really ever quite hit that high note. I can’t say I disliked this film, because I didn’t, but it’s definitely not a movie for everybody. There is a wacky storyline, some off-beat performances and doesn’t really beat to the drummer of a mainstream movie.