Was Diane Arbus a brilliant innovator whose photographs captured the beauty in the most desperate of subjects? Or was she an exploiter of freaks, shilling pictures of the deformed as a modern-day sideshow? Regardless of where one stands on her work, few can argue its impact on the art world. In FUR: AN IMAGINARY PORTRAIT OF DIANE ARBUS, director Steven Shainberg makes a bold first attempt at bringing the artist to the big screen. The film opens with Arbus (Nicole Kidman) living as a depressed housewife in a ritzy Park Avenue apartment. Assisting her husband Allen (Ty Burrell) in his photography studio, Arbus helps him shoot ads for women's magazines. One night, after spying her mysterious next door neighbour--a sharply dressed man with a hood over his face--Arbus decides to heed her husband's advice to step out and take some photos of her own. She climbs the stairs to her neighbor's apartment with the intention of taking his portrait, and there she meets Lionel (Robert Downey, Jr.). Lionel suffers from hypertrichosis, a disease that causes thick hair to grow over every inch of his body, including his face. He and Arbus strike up a flirtatious friendship, and he introduces her to the underworld of New York. They party with dwarves, dominatrixes, and circus performers--all future subjects of Arbus photographs. Arbus's marriage soon begins to fall apart, and her relationship with Lionel builds towards a traumatic, but transformative, end.
In an unusual twist, screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson has completely fabricated the character of Lionel, and his ensuing effect on Arbus. He is Wilson's fantastical idea of what might have spurred Arbus's metamorphosis from repressed housewife to daring documentarian of those living on the fringe. As the title states, this isn't a biopic--it's an "imaginary portrait," and while some might take exception to FUR's surreal spin on reality, others might find the unconventional film a fitting tribute to the always unconventional artist.
Actors: Nicole Kidman, Robert Downey Jr
Directors: Steven Shainberg
Format: Anamorphic, PAL
Region: Region 2 ( DVD formats.)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Entertainment in Video
DVD Release Date: 23 Jul 2007
Run Time: 117 minutes