Welcome To New York

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Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Caught in the crossfire of controversy: Jacqueline Bisset and Gérard Depardieu in Abel Ferrara's Welcome To New York
"Ferrara invests it all with the pseudo-docu urgency of something ripped from the headlines."

Although it opens with the caveat that the story was “inspired by a court case” yet is “entirely fictional” we all know by now that Abel Ferrara is referring to the former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and his wife at the time, Anne Sinclair, and the scandal and ramifications of an alleged assault on a New York hotel maid.

For the purposes of the film the names have been changed – in an inspired piece of casting Gérard Depardieu plays Devereau and Jacqueline Bisset, a less satisfactory choice, is his spouse Simone.

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Ferrara, who shot the production quickly, invests it all with the pseudo-docu urgency of something ripped from the headlines.

The opening sequences set the tone with Devereau seen satiating his appetites with a bunch of prostitutes in New York after he has been dallying with staff at his Washington office. Depardieu, in a performance of brutal candour, behaves like a bull elephant on heat as he partakes in the all the bumping and grinding. “I’m no spring chicken,” he says, but then sets off to prove the contrary.

You might think he would be all played out, but the next morning he encounters the maid as he comes out of the shower – and what transpires formed the basis of the court case. Ferrara doesn’t pull any punches.

Next thing, he’s off to have lunch with his daughter and her boyfriend, quizzing them shamelessly about their sex life to her eternal embarrassment in a scene that is cringe-makingly hilarious.

By the time the police catch up with Devereau as he is boarding a plane for Paris, Ferrara shifts gear and the tone becomes darker as this serial sex addict is taken into custody and minutely strip-searched – a lumbering figure, naked and not quite unashamed.

The scenes between Depardieu and Bisset lack a certain bite as she comes rushing to the rescue with her cheque book, setting up a designer apartment pending the court case and springing him from custody although he's confined to house arrest. We never really get to the nub of this relationship, which leaves an awkward gap in the narrative.

Ferrara has dealt with the themes of transgression before in Bad Lieutenant and The Addiction and seems at home with his subject, while Depardieu confronts his character with a rampant physicality that cannot be faulted. Few actors would have felt able to leave themselves quite so exposed.

Reviewed on: 09 Jun 2014
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Welcome To New York packshot
The story of a powerful man and his potentially dangerous sexual appetites.
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