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
'Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus' is itself like a beautiful painting. Starting from the photographic visuals, the artistic execution, the use of symbolism and metaphors, the superb camera-work, the incredible performances and stunning art direction, this is one film that is a poetic treat for the viewer. The background score gives voice to the unsaid feelings. Not only is it dazzling to look at, it's thought provoking and a fulfilling cinematic experience.
I loved the use of symbolism and metaphors. Some examples include: The association between the scene where Diane disrobing in the final sequence and the earlier scenes where she dresses up to her neck as part of social etiquette. Then there's the strong contrast between a furry Lionel and the high-classed women who were obsessed with fur and another interesting contrast between Lionel's dark fur and Diane's smooth translucent skin. There are numerous such intriguing symbolism that beautifully stand out. The references to classics like 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Beauty and the Best' and influences of Hitchcock and Kubrick are obvious and brilliantly used. The visuals too represent a strong ideas. They are not just there for mere beauty. The colour blue plays a key role on multiple levels.
Shainberg's direction is awesome but what I liked most was the way Diane felt more 'at home' with the people who were termed 'freaks' rather than her own family or her husband's social circle. Nicole Kidman is magnificent. Robert Downey Jr. too gives an equally subtle and heartbreaking performance. The two share a very passion-filled chemistry which only stresses on the fascination and attraction that draws Diane and Lionel towards each other. Their quiet love story speaks volumes about their internal desires and strong feelings for one another. I've mostly seen Ty Burrell in comedies like 'Out of Practice' and 'Back To You' but here he shows that he can pull off serious roles as well.
Not only is 'Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus' a plot driven film, it can be watched as a character piece, a mood piece, a love story and a period piece. A film that can be appreciated on so many levels, I fail to understand why it gained so little recognition.
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