Over the weekend I watched the movie FUR starring Nichole Kidman and Robert Downey, Jr. This movie was made in 2006 and I didn’t remember it being advertised at that time but saw it on the shelf of the video store (my mate dragged me in there) and decided to take a chance.
The movie is an “imaginary biography” of Diane Arbus, a groundbreaking avant-garde photographer known for taking black and white photos of people on the fringe of society - dwarfs, trans-gender people, nudists, circus performers. However ,she didn’t start out that way.
As the movie opens, she is a buttoned-up frustrated housewife in the last 1950’s. She feels confined to her life even though she sees her world differently than others. Then a new upstairs neighbor ,Lionel Sweeney, moves in and their eyes meet through a window. Lionel is a most non-traditional neighbor and his own differentness shows her a different way that life could be lived. His openness during their late night travels allows her to let go of the buttoned-up “normality” that stifled her creativity and her life.
FUR is a slow motion seduction. It gets under your skin. It makes you a little uncomfortable but you cannot turn away. Robert Downey, Jr. played the part well while in heavy costume and make-up. His character was strong and moving through use of mostly his satiny voice and soulful looks . As Lionel’s door is closing he wants desperately to open a door for Diane and this he did well. In the end she is transformed by his love into the photographer of the freaks and more fully opened to who she really is on the inside. She embraces herself.
The freak in me was deeply drawn into this movie. The differentness that I just can’t seem to completely hide, opened itself up and embraced the love that poured from the movie. As Diane Arbus was seduced by Lionel so was I. FUR is an odd little turn on that leaves you wanting passion, wanting to make some difference in your life or touch the lives of others. It was breathtakingly, achingly beautiful without regret.