We’ve all been burned by straight-to-DVD premieres promising big floating heads of familiar faces, edgy subject matter and an intriguing plot (Damn you, “Search & Destroy”!). Now, a new movie featuring cover box art of Cillian Murphy, Susan Sarandon and Ellen Page has hit video shelves with a truly shocking twist: It’s actually good.
So good, in fact, that super-producer Barry Mendel believes that his lead actor deserves an Oscar nomination. “I mean, it’s one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen in my life,” the “Rushmore” and “Sixth Sense” producer said of the thriller, which casts Murphy in a “Psycho”-esque dual role. “I have not been involved in a better performance in any of the films I’ve done.”
“The great performances that I’ve gotten to be a part of are Bill Murray in ‘Rushmore,’ Haley Joel Osment and Toni Collette in ‘The Sixth Sense’; I’ve gotten to be involved in some really good ones, like Adam Sandler in ‘Funny People’ or Gene Hackman in ‘The Royal Tenenbaums,’ but I think Cillian ranks up there,” Mendel said. “It was amazing to watch every day, and he took a lot of time to figure this out. I mean, he converted the attic of his home into [his character’s] home, and for months on end he would go up there working on how to differentiate John from Emma and play these two different parts.”
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Murphy’s performance is filled with gender-bending complexity. “By the time we got into real rehearsals and makeup and wardrobe and stuff like that, he’d figured so many details out about how they hold their posture and how they walk and how they talk and how they bat their eyes or how they hold their mouth,” Mendel said of the film. “We tried to use more make-up [when he became a woman], because we were afraid the characters would seem too similar. But we just kept realizing that we didn’t need it.”
Mendel added that while he isn’t fully certain of the Academy’s complex rules with acting nominations, he intends to do whatever he can to make sure the Oscars are aware of Murphy’s work. “The whole reason why it went straight to DVD is its own question,” he explained. “There are lots of reviews and people online who are saying ‘It’s crazy this didn’t go theatrical!’ but our financiers didn’t choose to take it to festivals and do the normal things that one does to try to get the film out there; they have their reasons for doing it.”
“But we’re very grateful that they funded the film to begin with, because now the film exists,” Mendel said. “Let’s face it, in this day and age, 90 percent of the people who see any film see it on DVD, so for the 10 percent of people that could see it on the big screen, it’s too bad. But we’re not crying in our beer over it. We got to make the movie that we wanted to make, and we’re super happy that we got to have the experience and that the film exists.”
Have you seen “Peacock” yet? Do you agree with Mendel that Cillian Murphy’s work should earn Oscar consideration?