Hollywood's highest paid actress, Nicole Kidman, loves to get her art film on. Which is proven once again by her appearance in "Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus."
The film revisits that side of Kidman's multi-faceted career that led to adventurous projects like "Birth" and "Dogville." And while mass audiences generally don't share the actress' affection for the experimental, "Fur" is intended for the crowd that appreciates feats of cinematic daring.
The risks in "Fur" begin with the concept: a fictional narrative about famed photographer Diane Arbus (a very understated Kidman) and her decision to choose art over domesticity. In the film, Arbus abandons her role as housewife, mother and assistant to her advertising photographer husband Allan (Ty Burrell) to become a rebellious artist acclaimed and attacked for her portraits of society's "freaks."
The Arbus sea change begins with the arrival of Lionel Sweeney (Robert Downey Jr.), a mysterious new neighbor who is covered head-to-toe in fur. Diane's curiosity about Lionel develops into a full-blown attraction, and anyone who's seen director Steven Shainberg's previous film, the S&M fairy tale "Secretary," will foresee the imminent freakscape (minus the spanking).
Kidman and Downey (even though hair hides Downey's face for most of "Fur") are compelling actors who elevate the film. But Shainberg seems a little too content to duplicate the dreamy style of "Secretary," and eventually it feels like he's just repeating himself.
So though "Fur" may be unlike most movies, you may still feel you've seen it before.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times