Note: This review originally ran during the Telluride Film Festival. It is being run again in conjunction with the film's release.
Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, is a beautiful, elegant, poem of a film, and yet, like Arbus (Nicole Kidman) herself, it's so strange it almost defies description. Arbus (whose first name is pronounced "Dee-Ann") is simultaneously one of the most celebrated and controversial photographers of our time. Arbus grew up in a wealthy Jewish family, amidst a life filled with privilege that she viewed largely as a prison. Overshadowed by her older brother, who grew up to become the famous poet Howard Nemerov, Arbus chafed against the expectations her family had for her to be an obedient, compliant child and, later, an equally socially acceptable wife and mother.
Fur is not a historical portrait of Arbus; rather, as the title suggests, it is an imagining of what might have been going on inside Arbus' mind at the time she broke free of the constraints of 1950s wife-and-motherhood to fully realize her own potential as an artist. Arbus and her husband Allan (who later became an actor, most famously playing Major Sidney Freedman on M.A.S.H.) owned a photography business, which made much of its income shooting advertising campaigns for the fur company owned by Diane's wealthy parents.