"A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know" - Diane Arbus
Nicole Kidman isn't new to taking up roles based on real people, having been casted as Virginia Woolf in The Hours. Here, her role as Diane (pronounced Dee-ann) Arbus however, is highly fictionalized, based on the renowned American photographer for her portraits of people on the societal fringes. The keywords here are "highly fictionalized", and even the introduction bears that stark reminder, less someone actually interprets the events on screen as a biography of sorts.
At first glance, the story is an enigma of sorts. Nothing much gets revealed in the trailers, and so this review will not tread anything beyond what can be seen or inferred from those short clips. Basically, it fictionalizes the motivations, and probably inspiration, of Diane Arbus, whose portrait photographs of her subjects are quite different in nature. Working in a partnership with her husband, she's the stylist to his photography, or in local terms, the one who covers the mountains and the seas, in other words, does everything else except taking the picture.
It's a modern retelling of a fairy tale whereby disclosing it will spoil the mystery. It's a rather warped love story (some might even frown at it) too between Diane and Lionel (played by Robert Downey Jr), and despite the less than stellar reviews of the movie, I thought it was excellently paced to keep you guessing in the beginning until the revelation, and kept you engaged further with more questions, anticipation, and the perennial "will they or won't they". It reminded me a little of an old Batman story arc (don't ask why) called Faces, told over three issues in the Legends of the Dark Knight title (issues #27-29), and probably because that particular arc is one of my favourites, that I actually enjoyed the movie.
The movie looks at freeing oneself from prim, properness and prejudice. Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Jr put up good performances as characters shackled to unhappiness because of society's expectations and prejudices, and have that desired sexual tension built between them that actually sizzles without being too explicit about it. In fact, much of the movie hinged on their performance and delivery as the integral characters, despite Downey Jr being hidden from most publicity materials (for a reason of course).
Fur might not be everyone's cup of tea with its relatively slowness in revealing itself, but for fans of Nicole Kidman, this would probably be one movie you won't want to miss. Showing exclusively at Cathay Cineplexes, opening this week.
For more information about the real Diane Arbus, you can click on this link to her wikipedia site.