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Fur - An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus [DVD]


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Product details

  • Actors: Nicole Kidman, Robert Downey Jr, Ty Burrell, Harris Yulin, Jane Alexander
  • Directors: Steven Shainberg
  • Producers: Laura Bickford, Patricia Bosworth, Andrew Fierberg, William Pohlad, Bonnie Timmermann
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Eiv
  • DVD Release Date: 23 July 2007
  • Run Time: 121 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000NJXBWW
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,593 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

An imagined biography of photographer Diane Arbus' transformation from '50s housewife to legendary snapper of life's more 'unusual' portraits. Diane Arbus (Nicole Kidman) is unhappily married mother to two children, Her mother and father are socialite fur-sellers and her husband Alan (Ty Burrell) a renowned studio photographer. Since childhood Diane has been hopelessly drawn to the unusual and when encouraged to take some pictures herself she seeks a subject that will speak aloud her worldview - that of people on the margins, the unusual and erotic. Opportunity knocks when a mysterious masked man moves into the flat upstairs. Diane is compelled to meet him. She takes a camera upstairs under the guise of photographer wanting to capture her new neighbour on film. The dapper and charming Lionel Sweeney (Robert Downey Jr.), it transpires, has a rare disorder, hypertrichosis, that covers him head to toe in thick, lustrous hair that he harvests to make high-class wigs. Arbus is completely enslaved by Lionel's sheer difference and is soon finding any excuse to enter his world. A former circus sideshow himself, Lionel has a circle of friends and clients ranging from an armless woman to midgets, transvestites and a giant - all of whom utterly fascinate his new pal. Fur, however far from the true events it may be, is a tender portrayal of human compassion and of a woman pursuing art against great odds.

From Amazon.co.uk

Modeled loosely on Patricia Bosworth's 1984 biography, Fur opens with an independent, working Diane Arbus (Nicole Kidman), free of the familial restraints that previously prevented her from making art. Flashing back three months, the viewer comes to learn that she has just left her husband and children to photographically investigate her fetishes through observing the extraordinary. When Lionel (Robert Downey Jr.), a wig-maker who suffers from hypertrichosis, or excessive hair growth, moves into Arbus's apartment building with his entourage and basement full of carnival props, Arbus is seduced by this opportunity to visually feast on freaks. The split with her conventional family becomes inevitable. Confusing love with her desire to make art, Arbus is overwhelmed when Lionel perishes, though its made clear to the viewer that this event provides Arbus necessary artistic impetus.

Early scenes establishing Arbus's distaste for society parties, such as the fur fashion show her parents host, her boredom during her husband's dull, ridiculous commercial photo shoots, and her initial fascination with Lionel and his bizarre friends are strange and funny, successfully separating Arbus from the 'average' people surrounding her. But as Lionel and Arbus fall in love, pretentious whispering replaces their regular conversations, and overacting spoils Lionel's death scene, in which they both float dramatically through the ocean, followed by Arbus crying in the surf like a weenie. Arbus desperately huffing air from a life raft Lionel inflated before he died is completely cheesy. The tortured artist myth has, once again, been pushed too far.

For a film that has such fine costuming, production design, and cinematography, it's a shame that Fur succumbs to that Hollywood convention of reducing the entire plot to a tragic love story. For a project with so much potential, and with so many Arbus fans eagerly awaiting this tribute to the great photographer, it's unfortunate that Fur falls flat, due mostly to injected sentimental melodrama in scenes where it has no place. If Arbus sought to expel saccharine emotionality from portrait photography, then it's odd that a biopic dedicated to her memory would be so unabashedly corny. --Trinie Dalton

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jenny J.J.I. on 28 Aug 2007
Format: DVD
I enjoyed this film for what it is but others won't feel the same. The movie Fur pays essentially no attention to Arbus's career as a photographer. In fact, if you do not already know about her work and its themes, you will leave be upset like a few reviewers in here, other than to realize that she was interested in freaks. The film never really shows the part of her life when her career had blossomed, nor does it not explain how she developed her technical or artistic skills. (It wasn't from her experience in fashion photography with her husband. When she decided what she wanted to do, she studied the art of photography under a master.) What the film does do is to ask a theoretical question, "What set of circumstances could have transformed a Good Housekeeping housewife of 1957 into a kinky fetishist in 1967?" It imagines those circumstances as follows: Arbus meets Lionel, a sideshow freak with a condition that makes him appear to be Michael Landon in that Teenage Werewolf movie. (This is a completely fictional character.) She is immediately fascinated by him, and then attracted to him. Through her Beauty and the Beast affair with the human werewolf, she meets the people who used to be his colleagues on the sideshow circuit, and is transformed by her fascination with their world, and is astounded to find out how essentially normal and mundane it is beneath the sensational exterior. She begins to ponder the nature of normality itself.

"Fur" was directed by Steven Shainberg, who also directed the kinky Secretary. He seems to have a bit of the Arbus spirit in his own soul. Shainberg does an excellent job at capturing the tension inherent in Arbus's point of view, as she takes her first tentative steps from the mainstream into an under culture which both excites and terrifies her.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Blackcat2 on 23 July 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
If one forgets that the lead is meant to be a real person and approach this film for what it is, essentially a love story, then one won't be disappointed. I didn't know who Diane Arbus was before seeing the film and it made not a jot of difference. The storyline is not totally unrealistic - a bored housewife stumbling across a new and different world through the medium of a new neighbour and the effects it has on her family. The performances are strong, particularly Robert Downey Jr, who even covered in hair, remains as charismatic as ever.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By L. Wilson on 20 May 2009
Format: DVD
This film is a must see! If not as a fan of Diane Arbus herself, for the dark and sometimes quite shocking story it portrays.

Robert Downey Jnr manages to still somehow, with that very sexy voice, keep the viewer charmed and drawn in even in the costume of all costumes, making it actually understandable how Nicole Kidmans character gets fasinated and quite obsessed with the 'freak' who moved in upstairs.

It is a nice idea of how Diane Arbus first starts to photograph the more 'un-usual' looking people, which made her so famous, but it is no way a story of her life & death, rather a 'snippet' of her life, or should I say, how her life could have been according to the writers.

This film is a hidden gem in both Robert Downey Jnr & Nicole Kidmans filmographies which did not get the fame and recognition I beleive it should have.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan James Romley on 20 Feb 2008
Format: DVD
Any instance in which a filmmaker attempts to blend ideas of fact with fiction - especially when that particular fact is fairly well known and tied to an iconic historical figure - they're going to have problems in maintaining a connection with certain factions of their audience. Just look at some previous examples of this same stylistic device in other films; such as Dreamchild (1985) for instance, in which an elderly Alice Liddell reflects on her time spent with Lewis Carroll and his obsessive compulsion to nail her character to the very pages of his most celebrated work. Even more polarising was David Cronenberg's adaptation of the cult novel Naked Lunch (1991), in which elements of the author's life and works were blended together to create a torturous, darkly-comic and highly homo-erotic trek through the damaged psychological territory of a Burroughs-like bug exterminator. A similar approach was also used by director Steven Sodebergh and screenwriter Lem Dobbs with their coolly expressionistic merging of the fantastical and horrific writings of Franz Kafka (1991), with the more mundane, everyday-like tedium of his real life and work.

Fur (2006), which makes its intentions clear with the subtitle "an imaginary portrait of Diane Arbus", takes on a similar approach to the films aforementioned; blending elements of personal fact and actual biographical detail with a story that is pure, fairy tale fabrication. Having watched the film just a few days ago, I browsed the Internet for previous reviews to get a sense of how other audiences had approached it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jennifer bloomer on 2 Nov 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
THis is now one of my favourite films. Some mind find it a little strange but I absolutely love it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By F. McLean-Brown on 30 May 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I know it is meant to be a tribute/fantasy, but with Kidman, Downey, etc in it I did expect a film worth watching. It is weird, strange, and decidedly offbeat. If you are expecting a film remotely about the real life of Arbus forget it, if you like fantasy, and Kidman in 50's style clothes and hair then it might be worth watching because she has to be one of the most beautiful/sexy actresses there is.

I know some people will like it being strange and i have to admit it is well acted by all concerned, very well filmed, just mot my kind of story line, but it may be yours.

Because it is well acted and well filmed I have given it 3/5, perhaps it is my fault for not being capable of appreciating the story line and ideas behind it.
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