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Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006)


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

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

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

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


Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 19,191


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.

R (for graphic nudity, some sexuality and language)
Directed By:
In Theaters:
May 8, 2007
Box Office:
Picturehouse - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus

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.

Full Review… | March 14, 2007
Time Out
Top 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.

Full Review… | December 29, 2006
Toronto Star
Top 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.

Full Review… | December 29, 2006
Globe and Mail
Top 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.

Full Review… | December 1, 2006
Denver Post
Top 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

[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.

Full Review… | December 1, 2006
Orlando Sentinel
Top 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.

Full Review… | April 24, 2009

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.

Full Review… | September 6, 2007
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.

Full Review… | July 23, 2007
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

Full Review… | April 23, 2007

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.

Full Review… | March 16, 2007

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

Full Review… | March 16, 2007
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.

Full Review… | March 16, 2007
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.

Full Review… | March 16, 2007

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

Full Review… | March 16, 2007

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

Full Review… | March 16, 2007
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.

Full Review… | March 16, 2007
Total Film

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

Full Review… | March 16, 2007

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

Full Review… | March 13, 2007
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.

Full Review… | February 9, 2007

full review in Greek

Full Review… | January 8, 2007
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

Full Review… | January 3, 2007

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.

Full Review… | December 29, 2006
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).

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.

Rubia Carolina

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.

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.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

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