Fur (subtitled An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus) is a rather strange film. At its heart it's not the breathy but brilliant Nicole Kidman (although she is its driving force), but the understated yet marvelous Robert Downey Jr, who proves he can do more than just talk fast about nonsense (which, lets face it, is what he often does). Indeed, Downey Jr.'s lines are said with such a subtle flourish, you start to wish you could get a recording of him reading out the weather or news headlines, if only just to hear those clear but smooth words rolled out once more. Nicole Kidman on the other hand, is to be admired more for her bravery than her performance here. Not many A list Hollywood actresses would accept the role of photographer Diane Arbus, even if it didn't carry the crafty "imaginary portrait of" tag. It is this little added theme (or rather reworking of her life) that gives the narrative it's main source of fuel: Nicole befriends a furry man. Not just any furry man, but a furry Robert Downey Jr. (he has a condition which causes fur to grow all over every part of his body) who entices her into his room by saying things like "I've lost my rabbit" and "Please disrobe". She first discovers this mysterious neighbor when clumps of his hair start to clog up the pipes in her apartment below his. She decides to visit him, and before long she's bathing with him and longing to take his picture, deciding she'd give her husband's profession a go for herself.
While watching this surreal tale unfold, you have to admire how Erin Cressida Wilson's screenplay has taken the centuries old story of Beauty and the Beast and twisted it to make a film that's paradoxically beautifully ugly. Although not at her best (and that's still very good by her high standards) Nicole Kidman isn't afraid to bare all emotionally and bodily. Her performance is still captivating without being as rich as some of her previous and later works. However, once the initial furry set up has been established, the movie doesn't endeavor to do much more with its brave story. There's some muttering about desire and more than what's needed on the nudism side of things, but nothing very substantial is served up. All the more annoying is that in real life Kidman's character, Diane Arbus, took her own life at 48, which is not shown or even mentioned.
It's hard to shake off the feeling that this mesmerising but puzzling film is a biopic masquerading as a fantasy tale, or maybe its the other way round. Whichever it may be, this is a good attempt to do something with the biopic genre, but unfortunately it doesn't grow on you like the fur on Downey Jr.'s skin.
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Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play. Turning her back on her wealthy, established family, Diane Arbus falls in love with Lionel Sweeney, an enigmatic mentor who introduces Arbus to the marginalized people who help her become one of the most revered photographers of the twentieth century.
An imagined biography of photographer Diane Arbus' transformation from '50s housewife to legendary snapper of life's more 'unusual' portraits. Diane Arbus (Nicole Kidman) is unhappily married mother to two children, Her mother and father are socialite fur-sellers and her husband Alan (Ty Burrell) a renowned studio photographer. Since childhood Diane has been hopelessly drawn to the unusual and when encouraged to take some pictures herself she seeks a subject that will speak aloud her worldview - that of people on the margins, the unusual and erotic. Opportunity knocks when a mysterious masked man moves into the flat upstairs. Diane is compelled to meet him. She takes a camera upstairs under the guise of photographer wanting to capture her new neighbour on film. The dapper and charming Lionel Sweeney (Robert Downey Jr.), it transpires, has a rare disorder, hypertrichosis, that covers him head to toe in thick, lustrous hair that he harvests to make high-class wigs. Arbus is completely enslaved by Lionel's sheer difference and is soon finding any excuse to enter his world. A former circus sideshow himself, Lionel has a circle of friends and clients ranging from an armless woman to midgets, transvestites and a giant - all of whom utterly fascinate his new pal. Fur, however far from the true events it may be, is a tender portrayal of human compassion and of a woman pursuing art against great odds.