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.
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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
Being lucky enough to have a free pass for the press this morning I attended the press screening of this film at the Roma Film Festival, which opened today. I would like to share some thoughts. First of all, this is far from being a biographical account of the photographer Diane Arbus. The film, with shows not a single of her works, just covers the few key months in which Arbus discovered to be an artist, leaving her well-to-do environment. One day ante litteram desperate housewife Arbus, married with the mild mannered advertising photographer Allan, looking outside the window sees Lionel, their new neighbour: this is the beginning of the most unusual of love stories, around which the whole film revolves. Lionel, which is an entirely fictional character, suffers from ipertrichosis, a pathological condition which makes his body and his face completely covered with hair. Lionel helps Arbus to discover herself and introduce her to the world of the freaks, like himself is, which would be the subject of most of her work. The title of the film states it is an imaginary portrait of the artist. It's more like a wild fantasy loosely inspired to her figure. Kidman's performance is good, but not mind-blowing. Robert Downey Jr.'s is more interesting: with his face completely covered with hair he manage to create a rather intriguing character, acting just with his eyes and his beautiful voice. I must say that after the screening the press audience was pretty harsh with the film. It's not really a BAD movie, one can say that in its way it has also a kind of weird charm. Steven Shainberg's direction is creative and interesting. Still, the film has many very weak points. There are really A LOT of unintentionally funny things, first of all the striking resemblance between Robert Downey Jr.'s character and Star Wars hairy fellow Chewbacca. Two or there meant to be serious lines made the audience (and me) laugh out loud. A few scenes were nearly ridiculous. If you are a fan of Kidman or Downey Jr. you can give a chance to this film: don't expect a serious work about Diane Arbus, but rather a very strange dream, and maybe you'll enjoy it. 6/10
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