Like an old pair of shoes, far too often we opt for comfort and ease in our movie selections. The alternative of breaking in a new pair, or in this case, the choosing of a film that is neither comfortable or easy, alludes to a lack of entertainment and is seemingly “just too much work”.
Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006), directed by Steven Shainberg, appears – at first glance – to be comfortable. It IS IMAGINARY after all. That is probably where the comfort ends. Loosely based on the 1984 biography by Patricia Bosworth, Diane Arbus: A Biography, the film introduces you to Diane Arbus (fascinatingly played by Nicole Kidman), living in 1950’s New York City. The story follows Diane as she makes the leap from a conventionally shy wife and mother to discover her true existence in a world that seemed to have been waiting for her to arrive. The inclusion of Robert Downey Jr. as Lionel, Diane’s new neighbor, is seductive to say the least. Shainberg described Downey Jr. as “jazz” and he is that smooth. The film takes you on a path that is both visually interesting and emotionally persuasive. In fact, when the film finally gets to where it had intended to go, it is, indeed, a very comfortable place. And it was at that place that I DID want to know more about who Diane Arbus really was, how she got there and who found her along the way. Not “too much work” at all. There’s a wealth of books, photo journals and the like detailing and recounting Diane’s life and her subjects – I encourage you to become obsessed.