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In facetious literary terms, Diane Arbus (thats pronounced Dee-Ann) would be dismissed as just another poor little rich girl. On Arbuss terms, she rose swiftly and almost suddenly to strike back at the alienation she felt. From being in danger of becoming just another a crusted New York housewife with an upper-middle class background to becoming one of avant-garde photographys greatest legends, Diane Arbus transcends just being a pioneering female figure. Indeed, the director Steven Shainberg does not intend to merely pay tribute to her, but to every artist and to everyone who dared break the mould to pursue their desires.
Born Diane Nemerov, Diane (Nicole Kidman) was considered a gifted child. But being devoid of attention (the type she preferred anyway) in the phallocentric 40s gave rise to the feeling of rebelliousness in her. She met and married fashion photographer Allan Arbus (Ty Burrell), a tumultuous marriage if anything but one that served to provide an avenue for Dianes bustling imagination and intelligence. Its important to note that the Fur does not acquaint us with her lifes numerous ups and downs but praises her most prevailing aspect a career as one of the most influential photographers of the century. In such, its not a description of her successes but one that explores her processes as she walks the line between obsession and artistry, and what triggered that explosion of insight that she innately shared through her photographs.
What Fur does do is try to imaginatively recreate the months in between Arbuss life as she leaves her husbands side to work on her notion of photography, her own personality. Although based on Arbuss life, its hard to call Fur a biography in any sense of the word when its suitably a fantasy, one borne of utter whimsy that directly relates to Arbuss own capricious nature and curiosity. Fur hypothesises an experience Arbus has with a kindred spirit. From this person, shes inspired to work her magic with the marginalised of society, from whom she eventually made her name.
During a moment away from her lifes faades as wife and assistant to her husband, she becomes intrigued, drawn towards a hooded man that lives upstairs. His name is Lionel Sweeney (Robert Downey Jr.) and hes covered in hair (or fur as it is insisted upon in order to provide a connection to Arbuss father), the hirsute body hiding the subject, the mentor that Diane desperately needs. Thus, we have a darkly comic fairy tale rife with sexual tension and a quaint sensation of discovery as we are propelled into a fantasy-fuelled expedition into Dianes catalyst for the rest of her life.
Nicole Kidman seems a strange choice in the context of Arbuss life but not as Diane Arbus in Fur. Bearing not much of a resemblance to Arbus, but probably to the models that plagued her creative bone for much of Arbuss early career with her husband in tow. Kidman is ethereal in Fur, a waifish porcelain countenance that seems to float off the ground is in direct contract to Arbuss grounded personality and experiences, one thats seen enough to know enough. But what Kidman gets right is a keen intuitiveness and intensity, and thats all thats needed to replicate her subjects progression into the legend she became.
In an invigorating and stimulating palette, the camera captures Arbuss passion and observes lovingly. Its reasonably tough to photograph a remarkable photographer, but the lensing is more than adequately eye-catching and fawns over her with a measure of sympathy and awe. While navigating through the lives of such incalculably talented artists like Sylvia Plath and Diane Arbus and the inextricable sadness attached to them, Fur is determined to uplift in spite of a tragic ending to Arbuss life.