Bored with being her husband's assistant, Diane (pronounced "Dee-ann") Arbus (Nicole Kidman) develops a relationship with her upstairs neighbor, Lionel (Robert Downey Jr.), who suffers from a condition resulting in hair all over his body and face. (Note: Arbus was a famed photographer who committed suicide at the age of 48, but the movie tells little of her life story.)
Big question: Based on Patricia Bosworth's book, this flick admits that it is not a biography; can we still care about the fictional tale of the beautiful Arbus bonding with the beastly Lionel? And can director Steven Shainberg ("Secretary") add a more personal element to another wacked-out story?
Skip it: There's a spacey hue of weirdness that makes "Fur" watchable, but something's missing in the heart department. Arbus pays no mind to turning her back on her family, and the movie never really reveals anything about anyone.
Catch it: If you've been looking for Kidman to do a sexier biopic than "The Hours." Which, of course, isn't saying much.
Bottom line: Just because a movie isn't a biography doesn't mean it shouldn't give us enough info to understand why the real person was chosen as the subject. At best, it's a logical synthesis of a director and a character--both with a recognizable fondness for the strange, who seem to be more comfortable when life is out of the ordinary.
Bonus: Lionel's friend with no arms does everything with her feet, including coffee-drinking. If you're going to try this and risk pouring liquid on your face, we suggest starting with iced coffee.
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
'Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus'
Directed by Steven Shainberg; screenplay by Erin Cressida Wilson, loosely based on the book "Diane Arbus: A Biography" by Patricia Bosworth; photographed by Bill Pope; edited by Kristina Boden and Keiko Deguchi; music by Carter Burwell; production design by Amy Danger; produced by Laura Bickford, Patricia Bosworth, Andrew Fierberg, William Pohlad and Bonnie Timmermann A Picturehouse release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:52.
Diane Arbus -- Nicole Kidman
Lionel -- Robert Downey Jr.
Allan Arbus -- Ty Burrell
David -- Harris YulinCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times