Fur - An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus [DVD]
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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.
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
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Top Customer Reviews
"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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As a film it is moderately interesting in a quirky sort of way. As a biopic (if it is meant to be this? Read morePublished 12 months ago by LeBrit
This movie has one of the most unexpected twist endings I have ever encountered and I love it. HUGE SPOILER AHEAD! Read morePublished 19 months ago by Santeri Mäkinen
Purchased along with the book which pretty much informed the film - recommend buying the two together. DVD used but in 'as new' conditionPublished on 21 Aug. 2014 by Richard Charming