Fur It's been a while since we saw a truly boggling sophomore slump, one of those infamous second-act follies, like Steven Soderbergh's Kafka , made by… Fur It's been a while since we saw a truly boggling sophomore slump, one of those infamous second-act follies, like Steven Soderbergh's Kafka , made by… 2006-11-10 R PT122M Drama Robert Downey Jr. Nicole Kidman Jane Alexander Ty Burrell Harris Yulin Picturehouse
Movie Review

Fur (2006)

MPAA Rating: R
BIO DEGRADED Fur , an imagined life of Diane Arbus starring Kidman, amounts to a lot of hirsute nothings
Image credit: Fur: Abbot Genser
BIO DEGRADED Fur, an imagined life of Diane Arbus starring Kidman, amounts to a lot of hirsute nothings
EW's GRADE
D-

Details Limited Release: Nov 10, 2006; Rated: R; Length: 122 Minutes; Genre: Drama; With: Robert Downey Jr. and Nicole Kidman; Distributor: Picturehouse

It's been a while since we saw a truly boggling sophomore slump, one of those infamous second-act follies, like Steven Soderbergh's Kafka, made by a director blinded with ego and overreach. Steven Shainberg, who made the winsomely rascally Secretary, has now followed it with Fur, subtitled ''An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus.'' Working in a style that's like David Lynch meets A&E Biography, Shainberg ''imagines'' the three months of Arbus' life in 1959 just before she became an artist.

Since Arbus was dark, compact, intense, and Jewish, she is portrayed — of course — by Nicole Kidman, acting in a mode of blurred-out sodden distress. A pampered, stifled Manhattan housewife, Arbus, attuned to the sights and sounds that no one else registers, meets the reclusive Lionel (Robert Downey Jr.), who has a disorder that causes his face and body to be covered with hair. He looks like a member of the Addams Family, and the film envisions their ''grand romance'' as a lachrymose, inert Phantom/Elephant Man/Beast cliché. Embodied by Downey with a sweetness that never makes him interesting, Lionel introduces Arbus to his freak friends — many, many freaks. But this is the film's real violation. Diane Arbus took her walks on the wild side, but her true subject was the freakishness of the ordinary — people made grotesque from the inside out, frozen and isolated in the godless modern world. Shainberg reduces this most disturbing of all photographers to a portraitist of Halloween.

Originally posted Nov 08, 2006 Published in issue #907 Nov 17, 2006 Order article reprints
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