The groundbreaking 1960s photographer Diane Arbus — whose haunting portraits of American families, freaks and misfits inspired a generation of artists — has been a tantalizing subject in Hollywood for years, with Diane Keaton at one point mentioned as the actress most likely to play her. But Nicole Kidman got the part, and before you say, “Huh?” remember what people said when they first heard she was going to play Virginia Woolf.
There are many reasons to look forward to “Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus,” the movie about the photographer’s early life and career that will arrive in November. One, surely, is to see whether Kidman can successfully morph into yet another famously complicated, troubled woman (Arbus took her own life in 1971). But another is director Steven Shainberg, whose 2002 “Secretary” starred Maggie Gyllenhaal as a masochistic clerical assistant. The film — funny, scary, provocative and finally kind of sweet — was a small triumph of formal virtuosity and tonal control. With Shainberg at the helm, “Arbus” promises to transcend the usual formulaic tripe of the Hollywood biopic.