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.
A retired legal counselor writes a novel hoping to find closure for one of his past unresolved homicide cases and for his unreciprocated love with his superior - both of which still haunt him decades later.
Juan José Campanella
In 1958, in New York City, the upper class Diane Arbus is a frustrated and lonely woman with a conventional marriage with two daughters. Her husband is a photographer sponsored by the wealthy parents of Diane, and she works as his assistant. When Lionel Sweeney, a mysterious man with hypertrichosis (a.k.a. werewolf syndrome, a disease that causes excessive body hair), comes to live in the apartment in the upper floor, Diane feels a great attraction for him and is introduced to the world of freaks and marginalized people, falling in love with Lionel. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In order to enjoy 'Fur - An imaginary portrait of Diane Arbus,' Stephen Shainberg needs the viewer to suspend all reality and prior knowledge of the American photographer, Diane Arbus. Paradoxically, it's the very use of Diane Arbus' name and knowledge to her life and work, that sets this film up to fail on a grand scale.
What becomes apparent quite early on with the casting of the beautiful WASPish and glamorous Nicole Kidman as the anti-glamorous Jewish Diane Arbus, is that Shainberg didn't get Arbus or what her work was about (unsentimental realism) and seems only attracted to Arbus on a superficial level through her photographs of circus freaks.
What follows is a kind of pretty and trivial Beauty & the Beast fantasy biopic with Robert Downey JR as Kidman's hairy fictional love interest. However, it's not the banality of the story that is the main flaw in this film, but the director's misogynistic stance that Diane Arbus, one of the art world's most singular and original woman photographers, was incapable of forming her own ideas about her work. While his previous film 'Secretary' was a study of female masochism, his continued portrayal of the female as submissive spoils this film completely - and flys in the face of the real life Diane Arbus' courage, tenacity and fearlessness in single-handedly exploring the often shady world of outsiders.
Imagine an imaginary biopic on pop star Madonna's life with Guy Richie as her Svengali, the man behind her career, and you'll get a feel of how seriously flawed and imaginary this film is: It can only work if you have absolutely no knowledge of the subject, or just choose to ignore all the facts.
It's a shame because once you remove all reference to Diane Arbus, this film could have stood up on its own as an interesting study on fetishism and a good companion piece to Secretary. 4/10
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