Feature

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus

A fur-covered man inspires Diane Arbus’ fascination with freaks.

"It's been a while since we saw a truly boggling sophomore slump," said Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly. The most interesting thing about Fur has got to be director Steven Shainberg's fall from the heights of his warped love story Secretary to the depths in this embarrassing biopic of photographer Diane Arbus. It's hardly even a biopic, said David Denby in The New Yorker. Even though the film's subtitle says it's an "imaginary portrait," it's still baffling to see Shainberg so wildly off the mark in re-creating Arbus and the ideas in her art. Arbus, as played miserably by Nicole Kidman, is a stifled 1950s housewife whose affair with a pathologically hairy upstairs neighbor (Robert Downey Jr.) awakens her desire to photograph the warm humanity in the eyes of dwarfs, giants, nudists, and twins. But one glance at an Arbus photograph will tell you that she never pictured her subjects as lovable victims of genetic fate. "On the contrary: Her freaks remain freaks." Don't blame this fiasco on Kidman, said Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. She's just awful in this role, but it's really not her fault. The lithe, glowing actress has been "grievously miscast" as the neurotic Arbus, leaving her one option: "to indulge her mannered coyness." As the furry neighbor, Downey is a delight, but even his performance can't save this turkey.

Rating: R

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