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Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006)



Average Rating: 4.9/10
Reviews Counted: 110
Fresh: 35 | Rotten: 75

This portrait of a groundbreaking photographer lacks the daring of its subject.


Average Rating: 4.4/10
Critic Reviews: 41
Fresh: 9 | Rotten: 32

This portrait of a groundbreaking photographer lacks the daring of its subject.



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Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 19,189

My Rating

Movie Info

Photographer Diane Arbus was considered one of the most mysterious, enigmatic and frighteningly bold artists of the 20th century. Most known for her obsession with "freak" subject matter, her haunting work emerged from a deeply private place. Arbus' death was as mysteriously tragic as was the aura surrounding some of her most piercing portraits.



May 8, 2007


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All Critics (118) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (35) | Rotten (75) | DVD (8)

[The] film illuminates Arbus' artistically brilliant, emotionally unstable life for no longer than the popping of a flash bulb.

March 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Stilted, stylized and art-directed within an inch of its life, Shainberg's movie (which was written by his Secretary collaborator, Erin Cressida Wilson) manages to be both oppressively literal and fatefully fuzzy at the same time.

December 29, 2006 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Don't be fooled for a second by that subtitle. Fur bills itself as An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, but this thing's got all the imagination of a career bureaucrat slumped in his cubicle awaiting a pension.

December 29, 2006 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Shainberg neither sugarcoats [Diane Arbus's] distance from her girls nor judges it. The filmmakers understand Arbus's story within the context of her time and upbringing.

December 1, 2006 Full Review Source: Denver Post | Comment (1)
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The world created by Shainberg never seems strange or real enough to convince us that we're getting the goods on anything. Put another way, this imaginary portrait might have done better had it stuck closer to reality.

December 1, 2006
Denver Rocky Mountain News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Arbus's] most famous images still have the power to shock, hanging as they do on the walls of the world's museums. Fur, the movie about her, reaches for that same jolt and settles instead for a raised eyebrow.

December 1, 2006 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Director Steven Shainberg's follow-up to his groundbreaking film "Secretary" (2002) is an anti-biopic that dares to read between the lines of its subject's artistic vision rather than replay the common knowledge events of photographer Diane Arbus' life.

April 24, 2009 Full Review Source:

Nicole Kidman is superb as the woman who blooms and goes a trifle mad at the touch of this other world inhabited by Lionel, and Robert Downey Jnr is the perfect actor for the role.

September 6, 2007 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile | Comment (1)
Urban Cinefile

Una película diferente y para nada complaciente con el espectador, que permite aproximarse a una de las artistas más influyentes del siglo XX.

July 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

If the filmmakers are telling us that Diane's artistic creativity was unleashed by the love of a good freak, then it's a shame. To turn a story so full of good intentions at the beginning into another movie about a woman who is liberated from the chains

April 23, 2007 Full Review Source:

Depois do surpreendente Secretária, que brilhava por sua enganosa despretensão, Shainberg tropeça ao encantar-se mais com a própria ambição artística do que com as brilhantes realizações de sua suposta biografada.

March 16, 2007
Cinema em Cena

An interestingly designed but inescapably pointless film.

March 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Guardian

Kidman and Downey Jr's moving performances more than make up for the film's daft script.

March 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Sun Online
Sun Online

Kidman delivers another standout performance, transparent and magnetic. Burrell is no match for Downey's hypnotic beast. The hairy romantic chemistry with Kidman is electric, the context inspired.

March 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

While Steven Shainberg and his collaborators should be congratulated for eschewing the traditional biopic route, Fur is a noble experiment that goes awry. Sad to say but this is not a film for anyone wishing to learn about Diane Arbus.

March 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4

Stylish, imaginative and beautifully directed, this is a slow-moving but utterly mesmerising drama with terrific performances from Kidman and Downey Jnr.

March 16, 2007 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

These are themes that everyone can identify with, especially when they're expressed with such intelligence and artistry.

March 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Shadows on the Wall
Shadows on the Wall

Kidman wades in over her depth in this genuinely odd but disappointingly flat attempt to recast a biopic as a fairytale.

March 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Certainly the film isn't without its flaws. Then again, perfection is in the eye of beholder.

March 16, 2007 Full Review Source:

Far-out touches and liberal application of metaphor are compensated for by intensity and two mesmerising performances.

March 13, 2007 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

The idea of growth as metaphor truly runs wild in Fur, until the thicketry of meaning and subtext becomes more dense than meaningful, and your attention is stopped, finally, at the surface of Nicole Kidman's placid full moon of a face.

February 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Reeler

full review in Greek

January 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses
Movies for the Masses

"Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus" points out in its title that the picture is mostly fictionalized, but in the opening prologue it states that Diane Arbus was one of America's most important artists. Why make that statement if you can't prove it

January 3, 2007 Full Review Source:

Pretentious twaddle that tells you nothing about Arbus. Robert Downey Jr. manages to be dignified even when covered in mountains of body hair. That's something.

December 29, 2006 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

Audience Reviews for Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus (Nicole Kidman) is an artistically repressed housewife whose creativity is awakened when a circus freak (Robert Downey Jr.) moves upstairs. An interesting imaginary premise, but the movie gets trapped in unconvincing and disappointingly conventional romance, ending with a superficial, uninspiring message (sometimes abandoning your children is just the price you pay for great photography).
September 3, 2013
Greg S

Super Reviewer

"Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus" could easily be a modern "Beauty and the Beast" directed by Tim Burton. I have to say that the beast is not that bad; he actually looks like a cute dog, maybe a Cocker Spaniel. But the fact is that, in this case, David Lynch could fit better with the Arbus's work. Don't get me wrong, the movie is directed by Steven Shainberg, the same director of "Secretary". Not having seen Secretary yet, my interest was totally in Diane Arbus.

Even knowing it was "an imaginary portrait", I expected something more biographical and maybe more faithful to the image I have of Arbus. Her photos can lead us to such a portrait, but knowing a bit about her we know she was not "one of us"*, but was more to a nice intruder. (Susan Sontag talks about it in "On Photograph"). Also, Nicole Kidman's Diane, and this is not her fault, could be both a model of Allan's ads or Arbus's strange photos, not mentioning that she seems a contemporay version of her previous Viginia Woolf. The film is not bad but it ends up resuming Diane Arbus into a fetishist herself and tries to explain her work by her supposed inner freak. But don't take me that seriously. "Fur" can be a good watch, specially if you like fantasy genre.

*Freaks, directed by Tod Browning.

May 11, 2012

Super Reviewer

"You see someone on the street, and essentially what you notice about them is the flaw." -Diane Arbus

A provocative tribute to misunderstood genius, Fur is one part biography and two parts fairy tale. Ominous yet oddly endearing.
March 5, 2011
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

The title cards before the film warn that this is not an historical biography, but I don't think that disclaimer releases the filmmakers from somehow connecting the main plot points to Arbus's art or artistic mission. What specifically attracts Arbus to the "freaks" she photographs? And what is the connection between these subjects and her trip to the nudist colony, which frames the film?
Additionally, the film offers a half-hearted criticism of how women were treated in the fifties, and of course, the criticism is warranted. But the "patriarchal" husband is certainly more supportive than William H. Macy's character in Pleasantville ("Where's my dinner?"). I might have missed something (because the DVD skipped in the middle of the film), but from the best that I could tell, Allan Arbus was not terribly oppressive. So, at the film's conclusion, Kidman's character doesn't earn our sympathy, and the tribute to her estranged husband at the end falls flat.
Overall, the performances were good. Perhaps it's my ignorance of Arbus's work, but the film does nothing to connect a very basic story to an "extraordinary" artist.
August 26, 2010
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Fur : un portrait imaginaire de Diane Arbus (FR)
  • Retrato de una obsesión (ES)
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