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I'm not a fan of photographer Diane Arbus, but I suspect the basis of her talent was a capacity to turn all her camera subjects into freaks and not a simple interest in freaks per se. This arty and moody account of her formation as an artist, as its subtitle declares, is basically invented. Its nerviness only pays off in a few details and in Nicole Kidman's resourcefulness—mainly a way of suggesting morbid curiosity as erotic stimulation, though the script manages to find diverse excuses for undressing her. Directed by Steven Shainberg, and written by Erin Cressida Wilson (who also wrote Shainberg's previous feature, Secretary), this traces Arbus's artistic roots as an oppressed 50s housewife and vicarious mother to an upstairs neighbor who looks like the beast in Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast, sounds and acts like Robert Downey Jr., and introduces her to countless other freaks. With Ty Burrell, Harris Yulin, and Jane Alexander. R, 122 min.

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