Maybe add to your queue, maybe pass: Fur–An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus

Robert Downey Jr. in a hairy situation.

I can’t decide if I really want to recommend you add this to your queue.

If the film didn’t pretend to be somehow related to Diane Arbus, I might give it a better review. So let’s say this: If you pretend that this film has nothing to do with Diane Arbus and you instead approach this as modern Beauty and the Beast story, you will enjoy this film. If you are looking for anything mirroring Diane Arbus, I suspect you will be deeply disappointed.

Steven Shainberg, the film’s director, I think tried to make sure audiences were prepared for the loose interpretation of Arbus’ life by including the word “Imaginary” in the title as well as the disclaimer at the start of the film that this story was a conjecture of what Diane Arbus might do in these situations. But the question still feels unresolved to me why he felt like he even needed to bring her name into it.

The basic storyline without spoilers is a bored wealthy housewife (played by Nicole Kidman) married to a commercial photographer  befriends her new upstairs neighbor, a former circus sideshow who has hypertrichosis (played by Robert Downey, Jr.). And since it’s directed by Shainberg, who already proved his kinky side as writer/director of Secretary when Maggie Gyllenhall amazed us all as a bondage loving admin assistant, you know it’s gonna be a little freaky at some point and be laden with sexual energy.

There’s some nice cinematography in the film that’s worth mentioning–a vibrant color palette that adds to the film’s fairytale feel and repeated use of lenses and holes through which the audience views scenes as if you’re looking through an old camera. And the costuming is spot on and enjoyable if you appreciate the attire of that era. And Downey, covered in hair like a Wookie, really works his eyes to do all the expressions for his character in the film in a way that’s impressive. For these reasons I’m not willing to totally trash the film and tell you to keep browsing for other DVDs.

Maybe add to your queue, maybe pass.


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