Welcome To New York

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15/1/15

Abel Ferrara’s sleazy slice of life tale, based on the recent misadventures of Dominique Strauss-Kahn (but with the name changed to “Mr Devereaux” after Strauss-Kahn sued,) casts old firebrand Gerard Depardieu in the lead role and encourages him to let his hair (and his trousers) down, which he does in gung ho fashion (in short, we see a lot more of Mr Depardieu’s body in this than we might have wished to.)

From the opening scene onwards, we’re treated (if that’s the right word) to scenes of rampant sexual depravity, as Depardieu cavorts with a series of half naked ladies, enacting just about every sexual position in the Kama Sutra and a few more besides. One could argue that Ferrara is simply displaying how corrupt the main character is, but after about half an hour of uninterrupted romping, I was beginning to suspect that he was simply using it as an excuse to show us something that bordered on pornography. In contrast to all the carrying on, the subsequent sexual assault of a hotel chambermaid is over very quickly and the remainder of the film is taken up with ‘Deveraux’s’ arrest and his awkward reunion with his wife (Jacquline Bisset, looking somewhat embarrassed to be reduced to this) after she has posted a million dollars in bail money. Here, there appears to be an attempt at some (bad) improvised dialogue as the married couple rave and bluster endlessly at each other but it doesn’t really go anywhere. Ferrara’s ‘show everything’ technique tends to drag every scene out long past it’s ‘edit by’ date. He has occasionally managed to impress as a director in the past (most memorably with The Addiction) but this is tiresome stuff that simply fails to hold the attention. In the end, what is this film actually saying? That Strauss-Kahn was a dirty old man? Hardly a revelation. It needed more than that and Depardieu, despite giving this performance everything he’s got, doubtless deserved to be furnished with a proper script.

This may be mildly titillating to those who don’t get out much, but dramatically speaking, it’s decidedly malnourished and only the most stubborn viewers will stick it to the bitter end.

1.5 stars

Philip Caveney

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