Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus

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Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006)

Directed by Steven Shainberg

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Robert Downey Jr., Ty Burrell

Director Steven Shainberg (Secretary) is behind this interesting film which creates a fictional life around a very real photography icon. Using some facts and a lot of fiction, the story is a unique and imaginative. The movie also features some great actors. Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours) stars alongside Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr. (The Avengers) and Emmy winner Ty Burrell (Modern Family).

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Diane Arbus (Kidman) has turned her back on the affluent family who raised her. Now, Diane and her husband (Burrell) are running their own photography studio and raising two young daughters. When a mysterious Lionel Sweeney (Downey Jr.) movies into the apartment above them, Diane finds herself drawn to him. As her photography skills grow, so does her love for Lionel. As her family suffers, this enigmatic woman is creating a new life for herself as an artist and a woman.

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It must have been nice for the writers to take the work of a great artist and create a fictional story around it. Like historical fiction, this move holds on to the spirit of the work and makes a much more romantic story with it.The actors all play their parts well, making each characters feel right for the story. Kidman is especially good, playing a woman at a major crossroad in life. This isn’t her best performance, but she did well with the material she was given. Robert Downey Jr. is also good in his role as the reclusive Lionel. Ty Burrell also does a good job playing Diane’s frustrated husband.

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This movie suffers from something that I think hurts a lot of independent cinema. The artistic moments and editing seem to take over the flow and emotion of the story. I felt that the movie lost it’s direction several times. This is a shame for a film with incredible sets, costumes, and acting. The film was also hurt by a lack of completion of several plot points. It just seemed to ignore certain points of conclusion that might have helped to round out the story.

My favorite photo from Diane Arbus.
My favorite photo from Diane Arbus.

Diane Arbus was an amazing photographer with a deeply troubled soul. Her work is a reflection of the inner-turmoil that drove her and eventually led her to take her own life. This movie has some shining moments, but seems to try too hard to be styled and artsy. I give this one 2.8 out of 5 stars.

Rating: R

Running Time: 122 minutes

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