Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (Stephen Shainberg, 2006)

Nicole Kidman really gets a bad rap these days. While in many ways it's deserved (has any actress of quality made so many TERRIBLE career choices?), it saddens me, knowing how good her more left-field movies are.

Fur is Stephen Shainberg's follow-up to Secretary, and shows the same tenderness and respect to subjects that may disturb society. While Fur is ostensibly a biopic, Shainberg opts for a more fantastical approach, creating a fairytale imagining of what might have gone one in Diane Arbus's head when she shifted from being a moderately content housewife to developing a one of a kind career as a chronicler of the weird and wondrous.

Left is from the movie, right is an Arbus original.
Nicole Kidman plays Arbus beautifully, as Alice descending into the rabbit hole of Robert Downey Jr.'s Lionel Sweeney, a man suffering from an obscure condition where he is covered in fur. Kidman excellently plays the processes behind the way that Arbus transforms every fear into curiosity and develops an overwhelming desire to not only study and document the freaks but to understand them and join them.

The movie makes no concessions to reality, which I suspect may irritate some people, but I enjoyed the dreamlike (and extremely erotic) atmosphere, where Arbus goes back and forth between a normal, sepia toned family life and Lionel's colorful carnival world.

Not!Modern Family with Phil Dunphy
Swimming pools in la-la land (also pretty shot!)
Just as in reality, people are left behind when when one life transforms into another, and our constant reminder of this is Allan Arbus, played with great pathos by Ty Burrell (in a serious role, natch!). You really do feel his pain again and again, as Diane leaves him to manage the business, the house and the children, while she pursues her odd 'fancies.' Nevertheless, and maybe it's the way Kidman plays Arbus, you can't fault her for it, and you can't but help being seduced into that other life yourself (though for the seduction Robert Downey Jr. is to blame, with his lovely, lovely voice).

This entry was posted on and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 . You can leave a response .

Leave a Reply

Powered by Blogger.