Review: Fur – Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006)

Fur – Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006)

Directed by: Steven Shainberg | 122 minutes | drama, biography | Actors: Nicole Kidman, Robert Downey Jr., Ty Burrell, Harris Yulin, Jane Alexander, Emmy Clarke, Genevieve McCarthy, Boris McGiver, Marceline Hugot, Mary Duffy, Emily Bergl, Lynne Marie Stetson, Gwendolyn Bucci, Christina Rouner, Matt Servitto, David Green, Sandriel Frank, Krista Coyle, Joseph McKenna, John C. Gallegher, Courtney Taylor Burness, Maureen Shannon, David Perkins, Eric Gingold, George McGrath, David Joseph Steinberg, Natalie Dix, Kim Taggart, Teddy Tilkin, Jess Osuna, Laura Andrew, Leesa Andrew, Peggy Cafferty, Cynthia Joseph, Laine Rettmer, Kimm R. Schwert, Ryan Shore, Nalu Tripician, Reyna Shaskan

‘Fur’ immediately draws you in to what matters: hair. As a viewer, you take a micro-level journey through a head of hair. And then the story begins, in a somewhat slow manner.

1958. Diane Arbus (Nicole Kidman) is the insecure and sensitive wife of Allan (Ty Burrell), a well-known photographer. Her parents are in the fur trade and belong to the upper ten. She’s not happy. When a new, mysterious neighbor arrives, she searches for boundaries beyond her oppressive milieu. That neighbor, Lionel (Robert Downey Jr.) suffers from a rare hair disease and therefore wears a mask. It turns out that he mainly has friends with a physical abnormality: a cabinet of curiosities. Diane’s life becomes intertwined with that of her upstairs neighbor. When the friends even use a hatch between the two apartments as an entrance door, Allan exclaims in despair: “Freaks are all coming out of my ceiling!”

Shyly, Diane follows her curiosity about the new. And then always safely crawl back into familiar territory. She continues to struggle with her role as mother, daughter and wife, and the other world she discovers. Until she has to make a choice.

Nicole Kidman is on a roll as the slightly neurotic thirty-something with a fascination for the deviant. Diane’s conflict is clearly visible in her beautiful and expressive face. Downey knows a haze of mystery to pull himself up with his playing. In addition, a lot of attention has been paid to the setting. Street scene, clothing and interior breathe the US into the fifties.

Photographer Diane Arbus actually lived in the US from 1923 to 1971. Many consider her to be one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century. Her photos would have changed the face of American photography forever. The film is an ‘imaginary portrait’ and therefore not a biography based on reality. Despite that, this atmospheric film is definitely worth watching.

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