By Shelley Marsden
Anybody that has followed the career of Cillian Murphy will know the Cork actor isn’t averse to a bit of cross dressing.
In Neil Jordan’s 2005’s Breakfast on Pluto (2005) he went from gawky teen to beautiful blonde bombshell as transvestite Patrick/’Kitten’ Braden.
He’s at it again in Michel Lander’s 2010 psychological thriller, just out on DVD, but his character is a hell of a lot creepier. John Skillpa (Murphy) is a reclusive Nebraskan bank clerk whose already tenuous grip on reality slips dramatically when a freak train accident means his deepest cross-dressing secrets are revealed to the locals.
Mild-mannered John lives alone, but has a split personality, and his alter ego is Emma, who dresses up as in the morning before getting suited up and cycling into town to work. But until a train derails and ends up in his front garden, nobody else knew about his secret life. Neighbours run over to check if he’s ok, but get a shock when they see pretty brunette Emma stumbling about his garden.
Putting two and two together, they decide she must be his wife, and offer their support. But the more they try to help and make friends with her, the more John slides into psychosis. Juno star Ellen Page as stressed-out single mum and prostitute Maggie holds the key to his past, and a relationship with John brings the darker side of his personality comes to the fore.
This is an odd, intense film, but not a bad one. Full of intrigue and mystery with more than a little Hitchcock to it, it’s beautifully shot, and features sparse dialogue as the camera follows the nervy John/Emma around the house making tea, preparing breakfast and spying out of the net curtains.
Ultimately, however, Peacock is let down by a severely-disjointed ending that not even Ellen Page and Susan Sarandon (yes, she’s in it too) can lift. That said the ever-wonderful Cillian Murphy brings the same fascinating layers of dimension to this role that he does in every part he takes on.
Peacock (Lionsgate UK) is out now on DVD.