The biggest problem with Fur is its lack of focus. Steven Shainberg’s previous film, Secretary, was a love story with a twist, and a dark sense of humour. In some ways Fur is similar, telling the love story of two people who have difficulty fitting into the world, but it comes up short by mixing in very real family drama, existential angst about the creative process, and a fairy tale about outcasts. This all-over-the-place approach eventually leaves the narrative hanging, in favour of sequences of singing dwarves, and foreboding shots of stairwells.
Who is Fur aimed at? As a tribute to a photographer that is little known in South Africa, I’m sure many people will either expect a straight biopic, or at least something relating to Arbus’s pictures, but this film is neither. The fairytale/dream atmosphere that Fur cultivates is so far from the warts and all style that made Arbus famous, that it would make more sense to rename it as a tribute to an artist who worked with dreams and the surreal.
As a story of quirky romance and creative awakening, Fur is acceptable. As an artistic tribute it provides little information and, as far as getting inside the mind of an artist like Diane Arbus in concerned, it isn’t very convincing. It is not a bad film, but it is as frustrating as it is entertaining - and that’s not a good thing.
- Ivan Sadler
A fictional tale of photographer Diane Arbus, in which an affair with an ex circus performer leads her to shun her repressive 50s family like, and starts her on the road to becoming one the 20th centuries most important artists.
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