The monster at large

Depardieu lets it all hang out.

by Richard Mowe

Jacqueline Bisset and Gérard Depardieu in Abel Ferrara's Welcome To New York.
Jacqueline Bisset and Gérard Depardieu in Abel Ferrara's Welcome To New York.

It had already stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy long before the Cannes Film Festival started. Now the wait is over as Gérard Depardieu lets it all hang out and more in Abel Ferrara’s Welcome To New York.

Late last night (17 May) at a beachside media gathering to promote the film which echoes the downfall of the disgraced International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the actor and director gave their take on what makes “sexual monsters.”

Although not identified directly as Strauss-Kahn, Ferrara confirmed that the main character was in part inspired by the case of the financier who was arrested for his assault on a maid in a hotel in Manhattan. The charges were eventually dismissed.

Depardieu incarnates this lumbering, grunting figure as a being with enormous appetites for sex, drugs and women, chalking up four instances of sexual congress the night before the incident with the maid.

Displaying some sympathy with the character, named Devereaux, Depardieu said: “You are not necessarily responsible for that lust. In a way I pity those who suffer from such a sickness. We all have compulsion. I never questioned the morality of my character – that was not the point. What I saw was that this man was not like me at all. But I do understand impulses and that you can get crazier and crazier as they come.

"I think anybody could have these kind of impulses. And there's something very tough in the act of surviving when you have this sickness. In all of us we know there is a monster in there; that there's something not quite normal."

Depardieu suggested that Strauss-Kahn was in his mind when creating the character but he had deliberately not wanted to be like him “or to look or sound like him.”

Ferrara justified the porn-style depiction of the lengthy orgy scenes at the start of the film , by saying that they fitted in to the "documentary" style.

Two simultaneous screenings of the film were held on Saturday evening for buyers, press and public. Thereafter the film became available via video on demand in France.

Apparently there have been no moves by Strauss-Kahn's family to stop the film and it is understood that they have not seen it.

Depardieu, who has been a Festival regular over the decades, has been praised for his bravura and audacious performance.

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