Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006)
Critic Consensus: This portrait of a groundbreaking photographer lacks the daring of its subject.
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.
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as Diane Arbus
as Lionel Sweeney
as Allan Arbus
as David Nemerov
as Gertrude Nemerov
as Grace Arbus
as Sophie Arbus
as Jack Henry
as Tippa Henry
as Fiona (naked girl)
as Singing Little Perso...
as Handsome Client
as Another Client
as Fox Model
as Fashion Model
as Bald Man
as Carnival Talker
as Little Diane
as Rose the Maid
as Man with Dominatrix
as Singing Little Perso...
as Elevator Man
as Siamese Twin
as Siamese Twin
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Critic Reviews for Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus
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.
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.
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.
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.
[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.
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.
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).
"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.
"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.
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