Fur: An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus (15)

PUBLISHED: 11:30 15 March 2007 | UPDATED: 15:01 12 May 2010

Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman

IT S a quiet week in the world of cinema – perhaps the lull before the storm ahead of the eagerly anticipated release of 300. But the pick of this week s films is Steven Shainberg s interpretation of the artistic and spiritual photographer Diane Arbus.

IT'S a quiet week in the world of cinema - perhaps the lull before the storm ahead of the eagerly anticipated release of 300.

But the pick of this week's films is Steven Shainberg's interpretation of the artistic and spiritual photographer Diane Arbus.

So with a script by Erin Cressida Wilson, he imagines what might have turned Arbus (played by Nicole Kidman) from a 1950s housewife and mother into a chronicler of the misbegotten and a suicide at the age of 48.

Diane first appears in the film as her husband's careful, quiet assistant, seemingly fragile, but filled with a steely resolve to challenge herself.

Allan Arbus (Ty Burell) is a dedicated fashion photographer who's slightly older than his wife and much given to self-examination.

Although they are close, they are clearly growing apart as a couple - and she wants to do more with the camera than change lenses and load film.

At this point Shainberg also throws in fictional character Lionel Sweeney (Robert Downey Jr), a mysterious figure who moves into the apartment upstairs.

Lionel dares Diane to imagine another sort of life, one more sensual, more original and less bound by convention.

When he introduces her to his friends - all of whom work as circus "freaks" she stops her usual housewife chores and starts to take her own pictures of her new, weird and wonderful world.

Fur pays homage to Diane's brilliant artistic talents and her challenge to accepted notions of beauty and ugliness and celebrates the way she helped change the face of photography.

Brilliantly performed by Kidman and Downey, Fur is a tale of artistic and personal self-discovery; an Alice-in-Wonderland adventure.

In creating this imaginary portrait of the American photographer, director Shainberg has made a film that, like the work and the artist it celebrates, is both daring and mysterious.


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