Last night, I received my movies from Amazon so naturally I indulged in a movie night, complete with popcorn! I’ve been obsessed with the work of actor Cillian Murphy since watching Peaky Blinders. Cillian Murphy is roughly a year younger than I am and has been acting since his 20’s, if not before. Before acting, he was in a band with his brother (The Sons of Mr. Greenjeans) and as he said in an interview, music is still a hobby and love of his. Cillian DJ’ed for BBC Radio 6 last week and some kind soul shared the link to the Peaky Blinders Facebook fan group I’m a part of. I listened to that episode twice so I could gather all the songs from his playlist. It was a fun musical education for me as I’m not up on any bands and know little about music apart from what I already like (jazz, instrumental chill music). I also decided to gather the songs used in Peaky Blinders and add it to that playlist on my Spotify. I’m currently loving Radiohead’s Pyramid Song and I want to hear more of their music. I did not know anything of Radiohead’s music before Thursday evening, believe it or not! I know I sound like I’ve lived under a rock for years by admitting this, but that’s the facts.
Last night, I watched the film Peacock (click for the link to IMDB). I’m writing this purely because I watched this film alone, it was still on my mind this morning and I was moved by this film. Briefly, the film’s lead character is John Skillpa (Cillian Murphy), an unassuming clerk in a bank who lives in Peacock, Nebraska. As the audience learns early on in the film, John has a second persona which is “Emma” which he created in his mind to cope with the death of his mother (who was severely abusive, controlling and horrid to him his entire life). All in John’s life is going along without interruption until a train car derails and lands in his backyard as “Emma” is hanging the laundry. The neighbors flood to the scene to discover this woman they’ve never met, who’s just escaped death! Throughout the film, John assumes “Emma” to manage specific aspects of his life.
There’s lots more to this story and I’d encourage anyone to watch this film, not just for the story but especially for Cillian’s performance, which was really incredible. To watch him switch between the two characters was amazing to watch. As a fan of his work, I was in complete appreciation for the preparation it must have took to play such a different characters. Also, in this film, Cillian wore a pair of contacts which made his eye color brown. The first time I saw Batman Begins, the thing which stood out to me was Cillian’s brilliant, blue eyes. I don’t recall seeing any of his work before I watch Batman Begins. My first reaction was, “who is this actor??! I must see more of him!!”. Wearing brown colored contacts in Peacock truly transformed him into the character of John Skillpa. It was amazing to see the change in body posture and voice pattern when Cillian was John vs. Emma. Also, Cillian makes a beautiful woman (also evident in Breakfast on Pluto). God bless all the boys with beautiful eyelashes, longer than my own (my own two sons included in that number).
In the film, the audience never gets the full, detailed picture of the abuse John Skillpa endures as a child but what little is said paints a picture of heartbreaking horror. A horror one wouldn’t wish on their enemy. John mentions his mother held his head under water as a child and this is said to the sheriff. It’s also mentioned that he has a child by a local girl who was paid to sleep with him as his mother stayed in the room. That detail made my skin crawl and it helped paint the picture of how cruel his deceased mother was. If nothing else, those details gave the audience a place to direct some anger. I found myself hating his mother for the abuse she inflicted. Seeing the picture of John as a wee boy also made that anger and hatred for his mother hit home. What was most unsatisfying for me was the fact that John never is able to fully share what happened to him with anyone. The therapy alumni in me always wants people to speak their truth in a therapeutic way and for this to not happen in the film, it truly pained me! I never pitied John and the fact he was able to find a way to cope was incredible. Hearing the echoed words (of his mother) spoken at the beginning of the film and seeing that picture of him as a child is what broke my heart at the beginning of the film. No child should ever endure hearing the words, “I don’t love you” from a parent. As someone who is fascinated by psychology and one who is training in a field where empathy is paramount, this film really hit my heart. Well done, Cillian, for this amazing and touching performance. This film will haunt me for a while.