Peacock (2010)

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Released 27-Jan-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Welcome to Peacock
More…-Cillian Rehearsal Scenes
Deleted Scenes-x 4
Alternate Ending
DVD-ROM Extras-Original Script
Trailer-For other Sony releases
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 86:56 (Case: 90)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:20) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Michael Lander
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Cillian Murphy
Ellen Page
Susan Sarandon
Josh Lucas
Graham Beckel
Bill Pullman
Keith Carradine
Case ?
RPI $34.95 Music Brian Reitzell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     John Skillpa (Cillian Murphy) is a shy and timid bank clerk in the small town of Peacock Nebraska. He still lives, a recluse from all social interaction, in the old house in which he was brought up by his abusive mother. From the day his mother died one year ago John become two people – the other one being Emma Skillpa. He suffers from a dual personality disorder and does become two quite distinct and different people; so much so that John genuinely does not know information that Emma knows, and vice versa. (This is not a spoiler; the dual characters are revealed inside the first four minutes of the film). Emma stays in the house, preparing breakfast and leaving notes for John. At about 8.30 Emma transforms into John, who eats his breakfast and then cycles to work at the bank. No-one is aware of the existence of Emma until a train derails into the Skillpa backyard as Emma is hanging out the washing.

     The townspeople, including Mayor Ray Crill (Keith Carradine) and John’s boss at the bank Edmund French (Bill Pullman), believe that Emma is John’s wife and want to meet her. Life gets more complicated for John/Emma when Fanny Crill (Susan Sarandon) and political advisor Connor Black (Graham Beckel) unexpectedly drop in on Emma seeking permission to use their backyard, and the wrecked train, for a political rally. Emma reluctantly agrees, but when John is later told of the decision at the bank he is aghast and explodes. Further complicating matters is single mother Maggie (Ellen Page), who becomes a pawn in the struggles for supremacy between John and Emma. As the pressure builds upon John/Emma, both internally and externally, John laments “I just need everything all back as it was before” but that can never happen and the film builds towards its unexpected climax.

     Peacock boasts an impressive cast and adds cinematography by Philippe Rousselot, whose credits are as diverse as La reine Margot (1994) and Sherlock Holmes (2009) and who won an Oscar in 1993 for A River Runs Through It. Yet the film went straight to DVD in all regions. Is it that bad? Absolutely not.

     Rather, Peacock is an impressive, intelligent psychological drama with a compelling central performance by Cillian Murphy as the conflicted John/Emma. He is never off screen and creates two very distinct people. John is the more neurotic, timid and tortured soul; Emma is seemingly more balanced, more social and understanding. At first the film feels a bit awkward, especially during the initial reveal of Emma as a man in the first four minutes, but so good is Murphy’s performance, plus the make-up and hair which make him look sufficiently different as Emma, that the “cross dressing” aspect of the film is soon forgotten. Indeed some of the scenes with Maggie, caught between the two Skillpas, are quite chilling and intense. Murphy rightfully dominates the film, leaving not a lot for the others to work with, although Sarandon fares the best. On the other hand, Page looks a little too young and innocent for Maggie and lacks conviction.

     Peacock also looks very good. The set design is excellent, especially the dark, claustrophobic Skillpa house with its drawn curtains and predominately muted brown colour scheme. In contract, the outside scenes (filmed in rural Iowa), the sweeping wheat fields, silos and classic country architecture have a luminous intensity in the colours and look stunning. The music score by Brian Reitzell is low key, moody and atmospheric, nicely increasing the tension.

     Peacock really is an impressive, intelligent psychological drama with a compelling performance by Cillian Murphy. The set design is excellent, rural Iowa looks stunning thanks to cinematographer Philippe Rousselot and the music score is moody and atmospheric. Independent films struggle to get a release, especially ones like Peacock where the subject matter would have been difficult to explain! If you like something a little unusual, Peacock is well worth your time to seek out.

     This is another annoying DVDs that start with forced ads, in this case for The Social Network (2:02) and Takers (1:21), that have to be skipped before getting to the menu.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Peacock is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

     The print could be sharper, but brightness and contrast are even and acceptable. Interior colours are deliberately muted, with browns dominating, while, as noted, the exteriors filmed in rural Iowa have a luminous intensity in the colours. Blacks are fine although shadow detail can be indistinct at times. One review I read of the Region 1 US NTSC release was scathing about the video of that release, noting mosquito noise, jagged edges and numerous artefacts. I must say that I did not see these problems with this PAL release. While there was aliasing, and, as noted, the print lacked sharpness, I did not notice any serious artefacts and only a little acceptable film grain.

     There are English subtitles in a white font. I did not utilise them to any extent as the dialogue was always easy to hear.

     The layer change at 57:20 created only a slight pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The only audio choice is English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps. This is an excellent track for a film of this type. Dialogue was always clear and easy to understand. The surrounds were used effectively for voices, weather effects, music and the train sounds and there was good separation. The sub woofer supported the music and the train derailment.

     The music by Brian Reitzell is well presented in the mix. It is moody and atmospheric, nicely increasing the tension.

     Lip synchronisation is fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Welcome to Peacock - Behind the Scenes (21:22)

     A reasonable making of with interviews, behind the scenes footage and film exerpts. While there is little on the details of the production itself, the featurette covers the genesis of the film, casting, creating the characters, the psychological basis of the character, locations and set and costume design. Interviewees include Barry Mendel (producer), Michael Lander (director / co-writer), Nicole Brown (executive producer), Nina Smarz (make-up), Patricia Almeida (hair), Suttirat Anne Larlarb (costumes), Jeannine Oppewall (production design) and cast members Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page and Keith Carradine.

Cillian Rehearsal Scenes (3:22)

     Raw rehearsal footage.

Deleted Scenes

     Four deleted scenes. Each has an introductory title card; one reason for the last two being deleted is that they posit Emma, dressed as John, going to the bank to steal John’s money. Probably one confusion too many. Scenes are:

Alternative Ending (2:31)

     A much creepier version than used in the film, suggesting that the cycle of abuse will continue with Jake.

Original Script (DVD- ROM)

     The script in PDF format for your computer. Requires a DVD-ROM drive and PDF viewer. I couldn’t get it to work.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 release has the same making of, deleted scenes and rehearsal footage as the Region 4, but not the alternative ending as far as I can see. Reviews indicate that the disc has very poor video with numerous obvious artefacts and faults. The Region 4 looks better, so should be preferred.

Summary

     Peacock is an impressive, intelligent psychological drama with a compelling performance by Cillian Murphy. The set design is excellent, rural Iowa looks stunning thanks to cinematographer Philippe Rousselot and the music score is moody and atmospheric. If you like something a little unusual, Peacock is well worth a look.

     The video and audio are fine and there are some worthwhile extras. The Region 4 PAL release seems the best choice.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, February 07, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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