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Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus 2006
Description: In 1958 Fresh York Diane Arbus is a housewife and mother who works as an assistant to her husband, a photographer employed by her wealthy parents. Respectable though her life is, she cannot support but feel uncomfortable in her privileged world. One night, a fresh neighbor catches Diane's eye, and the enigmatic boy inspires her to set forth on the path to discovering her own artistry.
Released: 20 Oct 2006 Director: Steven Shainberg Writers: Erin Cressida Wilson, Patricia Bosworth (book) Actors: Nicole Kidman, Robert Downey Jr., Ty Burrell, Harris Yulin Genres: Biography, Drama, Romance, Thriller
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Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus Reviews:

Had I taken to heart what the film reviewer in my local paper had written about this movie (and his 2.5 star rating) -- I would not have gone. Fortunately, I checked out IMDb and read that someone had compared it to Jean Cocteau's avant-garde "La Belle et La Bete." Enough said. That commendation, and armed, as I was, with the knowledge that Nicole Kidman has done some exceptional movies in newest years (particularly "The Hours," "The Others," and one of my all-time favorite psychological thrillers, "Dead Calm"), I was off to the local art movie theatre to join the sparse (perhaps a dozen?) audience of viewers. In short, this movie has set the bar extremely high re: all another movies I will see in 2007. One finds not only the influence of Cocteau in the film, but also of Kubrick, Hitchcock, and even of Maya Deren. (ie: there is a stunning photo of Kidman/Arbus crawling out of the sea -- a several moments of sheer poetry -- that are reminiscent of Deren's "At Land.") (Also, perhaps a tiny Jane Campion with the underwater shots near the end.) This is a decidedly painterly film, with everything from Arbus's dresses to the evocative interiors of Lionel's museum/carnival-like apartment and the film's textures worthy of commentary in both movie classes and post-film chats with friends. Contrasts are integral to this film. The paint-peeled walls deliever an interesting contrast with the elegant satins and aristocratic dining accoutrement (tea pot, cup), and parallel Lionel's declining health. Arbus's smooth skin vs. Lionel's fur. The staged symmetry of Arbus's husband's white-washed, commercial photography vs. the brilliant chaos in Lionel's apartment. Arbus's wealthy, "proper" parents vs. Lionel's menagerie of "freaks". Many of the shots are framed in interesting, geometrical or architectural ways, or echo camera apertures. The test of the colour blue in some scenes is breathtaking. Nice line -- (not verbatim): Allan Arbus -- "I'm a normal guy, actually I have a hole in my ceiling and freaks coming through it." I also felt the chemistry between the principal characters (a rarity), and trust the pacing greatly attributed to the overall success of the film. The framing -- with the nudist camp -- underscored the change/growth in the protagonist. As my 20 year old daughter told upon leaving the theatre -- "This is the type of movie that really makes you wish to live the life you were meant to." Here here. "Fur" gets five big, bold, blazing stars. It is, quite simply, brilliant. Please, say your friends.


'Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus' is itself like a pretty painting. Starting from the photographic visuals, the artistic execution, the test of symbolism and metaphors, the magnificent camera-work, the wonderful performances and stunning art direction, this is one movie that is a poetic treat for the viewer. The background score gives voice to the unsaid feelings. Not only is it dazzling to look at, it's thought provoking and a fulfilling cinematic experience.I loved the test of symbolism and metaphors. Some examples include: The association between the stage where Diane disrobing in the final sequence and the earlier scenes where she dresses up to her neck as part of social etiquette. Then there's the powerful contrast between a furry Lionel and the high-classed girls who were obsessed with fur and other interesting contrast between Lionel's dark fur and Diane's smooth translucent skin. There are numerous such intriguing symbolism that beautifully stand out. The references to classics like 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Beauty and the Best' and influences of Hitchcock and Kubrick are obvious and brilliantly used. The visuals too represent a powerful ideas. They are not just there for mere beauty. The colour blue plays a key role on multiple levels.Shainberg's direction is nice but what I liked most was the method Diane felt more 'at home' with the folks who were termed 'freaks' rather than her own family or her husband's social circle. Nicole Kidman is magnificent. Robert Downey Jr. too gives an equally subtle and heartbreaking performance. The two share a very passion-filled chemistry which only stresses on the fascination and attraction that draws Diane and Lionel towards every other. Their quiet love storyline speaks volumes about their internal desires and powerful feelings for one another. I've mostly seen Ty Burrell in comedies like 'Out of Practice' and 'Back To You' but here he shows that he can pull off serious roles as well.Not only is 'Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus' a plot driven film, it can be watched as a hero piece, a mood piece, a love storyline and a period piece. A movie that can be appreciated on so many levels, I fail to understand why it gained so tiny recognition.


I saw Fur this afternoon. I went to the 1:30 pm matinée and we were only three in the theater. That's OK… I felt like it was a personal showing. From the very begin of the making this film, the entire storyline got my attention, more than any other. It wasn't simply an occasion to see Robert work – it was my type of film. I love the unusual, the weird, the special and all of these elements were in this film. When Lionel says Diane that he's "been waiting for a true freak" I knew just what he meant. Diane has been forbidding her own self to be real and she suffers from it. Lionel is her liberator, it's a love storyline of the most spiritual type since "…there are only two sins; the first is to interfere with the growth of other human being, and the second is to interfere with one's own growth." I thought the chemistry between Nicole and Robert was right on, both of them being seekers of truth. If you trust that the eyes are windows to your soul then you will be unable to take your eyes off the screen. Their adventure is in their eyes – you see in them the curiosity, the fascination, the fear, the pain, the joy, the love and finally the liberation of their souls. When the photograph is finally taken, Robert has your heart in his hands. If any of you have gone through that "soul transformation" experience, you will recognize it. If not, it's still a nice fairy tale.I love the sets, the melody and the photography because they served the storyline so well. And all I have to tell about the love stage is Oh. My. God. This is a movie I wish to see again, and again.As for the mix reviews, maybe, just maybe, if they had not used Diane Arbus' name, the critics would have been kinder and they would have been willing to have more of an launch mind. The writer and director used Arbus' claim to fame to discover the spark, the birth if you will of creativity. In any case, those who got it loved it and those who did not receive it, smothered it. I guess I don't have to say you I loved it.



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