Catalogue Review of Cillian Murphy
Cillian Murphy has been one of my favorite actors for a long time now. I fell in love with him for his captivating performance as the Scarecrow in Batman Begins, and since then have been a devoted fan of his work. I adore him so much because I feel he truly captures the aura of a situation through his intense acting. He has an amazing spirit and an oddly calming voice. He also manages to retain his Irish culture strongly in all of his roles, even ones that seem like they wouldn’t require it. I have gone back and watched all of his most major roles in both movies and television, and this is a catalogue review of his work. This isn’t exactly a review of the movies and television themselves, but rather an evaluation of how Murphy portrayed his character and if this was his acting at its strongest.
Disco Pigs (2001)
This strange film, which is actually an adaptation of a 1996 play by the same name, stars Cillian Murphy as “Pig”, a 17 year old filled with considerable amounts of contempt for the world. His only friend in the world is a girl named “Runt”, portrayed by Elaine Cassidy. The two have an obsessive plutonic friendship with each other, and they essentially block off everything in the world except each other. The movie itself does a decent job at examining how friendships form and exist, but Cillian’s role was incredibly introspective. Although he is a young and shaky actor, he perfectly conveys a character who clearly has a mental illness, and that illness makes him into the antagonist of the movie. However, he passionately displayed the struggle his character was going through in a way that made audiences actually root for his anti-hero of a character. This movie was what put Murphy on the map as an actor, and his performance explains why.
28 Days Later (2002)
This movie is a post-apocalyptic horror movie in which Murphy plays a regular guy named Jim trapped in a zombie infected England. The movie is credited with giving the zombie genre back the ability to be scary, because pretty much every major zombie movie of the decade before it was either satirical or not scary. Murphy’s performance is absolutely astounding. He perfectly captures the aura of a man who was just placed in a world he clearly has no understanding of. His fear and desperation create a feeling of suspense for the audience. His character also gradually gets used to the world around him. As he obtains a sense of confidence, his voice gets louder and clearer, which is a clever way of conveying a feeling to the audience. I have a great deal of respect for his role in this movie since he specifically auditioned for it because he was proud to be part of a movie that combined true British culture and the horror genre.
Batman Begins (The Dark Knight Trilogy) (2005)
Rather than playing the scared man, in this movie Murphy actually portrays the terrifying Scarecrow villain fighting against Batman. His monologues about creating a world based off fear invoke a wonderfully appealing sense of the insane genius that his character has. His character seems like an innocent doctor at first, but he is revealed to be a villain with dark motives.
He actually originally auditioned for the role of Batman, and when he wasn’t cast, Christopher Nolan was so impressed by his audition and his beautiful eyes that he gave him this role. As a way of fan service, his character actually makes cameos in every movie in the trilogy. In The Dark Knight, he leads a robbery in the beginning of the film. In The Dark Knight Rises, he appears as the leader of the criminal’s jury when they take over Gotham.
The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)
This heartbreaking war drama stars Murphy as a rebel during the Irish War of Independence, and it follows him and his family’s struggles to create a free Ireland. The movie is incredibly emotional, full of political speeches, horrifying war scenes, and examines the terrible emotional trauma war and revolution bring onto people. His performance in this movie is amazing, he truly captures the essence of the war. Without spoiling anything, there is an incredibly emotional scene towards the end of the movie. While most characters cry or wail, Murphy chose to simply stay silent and look somber, which cleverly captures the tragic tone of the war and the affect it could have on those involved. However, this movie really isn’t about his acting, he even acknowledges that in interviews. This film is about offering an emotional story of a terrible event in Irish history, something Murphy is incredibly passionate about.
In Time (2011)
Murphy plays the leader of the Timekeepers in this dystopian film. His character was interesting because he was a God in a manmade world, and he did a good job playing an angered character with a godlike power. However, his character didn’t have much screen time, and as a result, he was almost forgettable in this film. By the end of the movie, when he finally returns, he is only involved in an action scene, and his character didn’t really stand out. Honestly, the most powerful part of Murphy’s performance in this movie is his posture whenever he does show up. The way he stands so tall and stares deeply into the screen really capture the powerful aura his character was supposed to have.
Peaky Blinders (2013-)
This Netflix series about mobsters in Birmingham in 1920 is Murphy’s most recent work. Murphy plays the leader of the mobsters, Tommy Shelby. This role is perfect for Cillian Murphy. He perfectly combines the strong silent ruthlessness of Murphy with the way he can perfectly convey someone with a bit of insanity or a dark past. He is also witty, smart, interesting, full of depth and the perfect anti-hero. By all standards his character is committing crimes and hurting people, but you can’t help but room for him and his gang of Peaky Blinders. Even though the series only has 12 episodes so far, his character is comparable to Birmingham’s Walter White in my opinion. The show is an incredibly interesting and modern take on Birmingham’s history, and Murphy’s performance makes the show’s incredible writing that much better.