With a large dose of Psycho and a heavy influence of the Hitchcockian, Peacock is an intriguing thriller film from director Michael Lander that focuses on an individual that suffers from dissociative identity disorder. There’s an extremely impressive utilisation of soundtrack throughout, and Hitchcock himself would have been proud of the film’s fine ability to convey a mood through its powerful sense of sound.
Starring Cillian Murphy in its leading role, Peacock deals with the issue of dissociative identity disorder in an interesting manner as Murphy takes on the personalities of John and Emma, with the two identities communicating with one another through the use of notes. John’s mother sadly passed away the year before we join him here, and we get the impression that his mother did a lot for him to help him through his daily routine and that the personality of Emma is now acting as his surrogate mother. Although both parts are played by Cillian Murphy, John and Emma have very obviously different personalities and Murphy puts on an incredible acting performance to provide a convincing case that these are indeed two very separate identities.
Although the film features notable stars such as Susan Sarandon and Ellen Page, the key focus is firmly placed upon Cillian Murphy and we spend much of the film’s duration with him. Sarandon and Page play their roles well, the success or failure of the film is extremely dependent on Murphy’s ability to convincingly portray two separate identities, however, and he performs his part commendably.
Despite the extreme success of Cillian Murphy’s acting ability here and a very impressive storyline, Peacock is at times as frustrating as it is intriguing. As excellent as Cillian Murphy is in the role of John/Emma, you really only feel as though the film is scratching the very surface of the character; there’s so much more that we could have got to know about John/Emma, so much we want to learn and discover about the complexity behind this character, and had the film delved deeper into his/her psyche then this certainly would have been a very interesting avenue for exploration. Peacock takes a fascinating approach and deserves every credit for its success as a thriller film, but you can’t help but feel that the key protagonist is left underdeveloped and come the end of the film it’s therefore quite disappointing when we’re forced to leave the John/Emma character behind as we feel that we’re only just getting started with finding out about them. The film certainly gets you thinking and wondering what came next for the character (maybe opening a motel?), but there also could have been a little more development and exploration of character within the film that could have taken things to the next level.
If you’re a fan of Hitchcock, enjoyed Psycho, and have a soft spot for David Lynch, Peacock is definitely a film that’s well worth checking out. Peacock is a mysterious and thrilling film that features an incredibly powerful performance from Cillian Murphy; it’s a film well worth watching for Cillian Murphy’s performance alone, and the fact that it’s also a pretty impressive piece of cinema ensures that whilst not perfect, Peacock is a film that is most definitely more than worthy of a watch.
In addition to the feature film itself, the DVD release from Lionsgate also features a 21 minute documentary that provides us with some insight into how the idea of the film first came about, research that was conducted into Ed Gein prior to the film’s production, and an idea of the process that Cillian Murphy went through in order to perfect and properly separate the characterisation of both John and Emma. It’s an interesting documentary that explains what the film started out as and what it ultimately became, and it makes for an enjoyable watch to provide some perspective about the thought process behind some of the film’s key areas.