FCE and I are compatible in good ways and weird ways. One of the weird ways is that we’re both “out there,” but not always in the same areas. Our similar-but-different tastes often bring strange films into our home theater. I love deliberately paced think pieces (he calls them “slow”); he loves conspiracy theory documentaries (I have to admit, they’re a hoot). We both love B-movies (remember, the “B” is for “beer”), but I don’t inflict a lot of what I view on him; there’s only so much a semi-sane human can bear. So each of our out-there-ness complements the other.
About a month or so ago (hey, it’s been a busy summer!), I saw a trailer for a movie that looked quirkily intriguing, so moved it to the top of our Netflix queue (as “keeper of the queue” I have unlimited power). We usually watch movies within a day or so of their arrival, but this one had been sitting around for about a month (probably more). I suspect that FCE wasn’t all that interested because he’s all too familiar with my definition of quirky.
Peacock features a bravura performance by Cillian Murphy, an actor whom we’ve seen in a number of films, but somehow wasn’t on our radar. Murphy portrays a man who at first appears to be a cross-dresser, then we suspect he may have multiple personality disorder, and finally we understand that he’s just plain nuts. Okay, psychotic. His character, John Skillpa, is a haunted, wounded young man devoid of social skills. While John shrinks further and further away into his shell, his alter-ego, Emma blossoms.
The supporting cast includes reliable performers Ellen Page as a somewhat bewildered young mother, Susan Sarandon (a “modern” woman), Josh Lucas (a caring cop), Bill Pullman (an insensitive supervisor), and Keith Carradine (a nice-but-prickly politician/employer). Their contributions add to the film's rich texture.
This indie thriller is a morass of human emotions, and the audience is allowed to sink slowly into it, savoring—and puzzling out—the many details. It’s the story of a man whom everyone in the town of Peacock, Nebraska (pop. 800) thinks lives alone. One day a train jumps its tracks and the caboose lands in John’s backyard. There a woman is hanging laundry, and the passersby and witnesses mistake her for the wife they didn’t know John had.
John, emotionally fragile and ill-equipped to handle stress, becomes a victim of the fame and attention this event brings. Emma, also shy, learns to be more assertive and sure of herself. These two personalities are distinct; John doesn’t know what Emma’s doing; Emma is unaware of John’s actions. Emma communicates with John by leaving notes with the meals she prepares for him.