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Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Artists Taking Risks

    The division of opinion in responses to FUR - AN IMAGINARY PORTRAIT OF DIANE ARBUS is a healthy one and it is reassuring to read so many fine views of the film's worth. Diane Arbus remains one of the more important artists of the 20th century, a woman who defied societal taboos and entered the world of the marginal people - fellow human beings whose genetic inheritances could be viewed as either curses or variations of normal. Without making judgments Arbus photographed little people and giants, people with less than four limbs, people with deformities both skeletal and flesh defined, people whose life styles influenced at times grotesque appearances: in the end the common denominator is 'people'. She was unafraid to observe and to capture nature's variations. How this great artist transitioned from the ordinary life of the 'proper wife and mother' of the 1950s to the world of the bizarre has always been a story that begged to be told. In this film, loosely based on the biography by Patricia Bosworth as adapted by Erin Cressida Wilson, driven director Steven Shainberg strives to create a story that would explain the transition. It is only a story and to judge it as honest biography would be incorrect. It is fantasy and one that is a clever, if overdone, explanation for Arbus' choices she made in her private life and in her artistic life. As Diane Arbus, Nicole Kidman once again inhabits the role of a very strange personality and does it so well that she manages to take us along the odd journey on which she embarks. Her nice but mundane husband Allan (Ty Burrell) allows her to explore the presence of a new tenant Lionel (Robert Downey Jr.), encouraging his frustrated wife to take up photography on her own rather than serving as his assistant for the fashion magazine images he grinds out. Lionel is covered with hair (hypertrichosis) and as a sideshow freak has many friends who have deformities. Arbus enters this world, loves the freedom of expression she has longed for, and in time falls in love with Lionel, leaving her family to enter completely the vision she has discovered (this is not a spoiler as the film opens with this information). Yes, Shainberg can be criticized for excess and for pushing the boundaries of credibility, but for this viewer that approach enhances the concept of visualizing the epiphany in an artist's life when the world changes to a form the artist can then capture and share. The sets, photography, and the acting fit the idea - even the far too prolonged love scene/body shaving sequence and aftermath that can only be described as bizarre. The film is obviously a work of love and one that honors the life of Diane Arbus, even though we are not given much true information about the woman. Veteran actors Jane Alexander and Harry Yulin add to the dignity of the project, as does a fascinatingly simple musical score by Carter Burwell. This is a film for those who appreciate fantasy as a means of relating a history: for those who need factual biographical approach this film will not appeal. Grady Harp

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Fur or Fake?

    Enjoyable film but why would a work of fiction use the name of a real person? I knew Diane Arbus in the 1950's and this film does not in any way relate to her real life. If a fictious name had been used instead, the story could have stood on its own. To use the Arbus name, to me, serves no purpose.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great movie!

    I saw this movie on the shelf at blockbuster and thought I would test it out. I had never heard of it before and it looked interesting. I also like Nicole and Robert so I figured it would be good. I really liked the movie. You have to be prepared for the odd but if you can get past that and have an open mind while watching the movie then you will enjoy it. I loved the random comedic one liners that were tossed in during the dialog. It realy is a great movie and I think everyone should watch it- although I wouldn't let any children watch it.. Only adults when there are no kids around at all. There are a few scenes that would be disturbing for kids of any age. Overall- Great, Watch it with an open mind and you will love it and see the beauty of it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A reviewer

    Having read some pre-release articles and interviews about the film, I was prepared for its framing with an Alice In Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass treatment. The viewer is slowly but surely drawn into this "curiouser and curiouser" world to which Diane "Nicole Kidman" is introduced by her mentor/muse, Lionel "Robert Downey, Jr." Those inclined to be too literal minded would find this story to be completely implausible, but it of course it is meant to be metaphor. Just as any other artist or writer "at the moment, I can only think of one, Dante's Beatrice" Lionel represents the muse, an ideal, in Jungian terms, a shadow self in the unconscious that reveals possiblilites in artistic expression. One reviewer complained about this device by asking why this character couldn't have been a woman? Why was a MAN needed to open Arbus' eyes?? Well, again in Jungian terms, the shadow self is represented as the opposite sex, the other half of the person's psyche. Of course, the parallels with "Beauty and the Beast" also come to mind...the reconciliation between the lovely and the seemingly wild and ugly sides of a person/existance, and also that things are not always what they seem. While the resolution of the tale may have seemed unlikely to some audiences, I think the love story set up between Diane and Lionel demanded some sort of lovely, tragic ending (and of course, we ALL wanted to see underneath all that hair, especially since it was Robert Downey, Jr!) It also could be viewed in metaphoric terms as the final incorporation of the "shadow side" into Arbus' conscious acceptance of her new-found artistic self and the strength to go on and do the work she felt called to do. "As a post-script, I read somewhere that originally when a Arbus film was conceived years ago, Diane Keaton was considered to play the role. Too bad we all missed out on that!"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2008

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    Posted March 13, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2009

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