Welcome to New York



DIR: Abel Ferrara • WRI: Abel Ferrara, Christ Zois • PRO: Adam Folk • DOP: Ken Kelsch • ED: Anthony Redman • DES: Tommaso Ortino   CAST: Jacqueline Bisset, Gérard Depardieu, Drena De Niro

The most unusual thing about this film for me is the pre-credit scene, which seems to be designed so that we know for sure it is about Dominique Strauss-Kahne, the famous E.M.F. banker and potential president of France. Depardieu playing Depardieu at a press conference explains why he played the role we are about to see, in broken English he ends the interview by telling the reporters he ‘hates politic’. Ferrara’s camera sweeps back and forth from interviewers and interviewee, cut to credits and a song about America and we now have Depardieu, playing Deveraeaux, read Johnathan Strauss-Kahne, though we are explicitly told it is inspired by him and not actually him.  Strauss-Kahne himself seems to very much think it is a portrait of him and is suing Ferrara and company for their trouble.

Devereaux is a high-powered banker working for the World Bank and being groomed by his wife for the presidency of France. We do not learn this until later in the film but we know who he is not playing, i.e. Strauss-Kahne, so that information is in the head of anyone who knows the event and its ‘repercussions’.  As well as being powerful he is also a self proclaimed womaniser and sex addict. He is also very fond of paid-for sex, which we see in abundance over the first half hour of the film. This is followed by his sexual assault on a maid after he asks her does she realise who he is, and lunch with his daughter and her boyfriend where the conversation is lewd and invasive as he asks her boyfriend how the ‘fucking’ is going.  One trip to the airport, a call to the hotel to retrieve a forgotten Blackberry, and Devereaux is incarcerated and seeing another side of life he did not expect and also seemingly oblivious to having done anything wrong

Solid performances from Depardieu, Bissett et al does not save this film from being a by-the-numbers, cold-hearted story of the events. It fails to either say anything new or invest any real understanding of his character. Wealthy people getting away with doing terrible things seems to be the only solid truth on display.  Even the question of Devereaux’s own victimhood is up for grabs.

The maid’s story (quite purposefully) slips away and we are told the story of a man who has lost some of his glitter and ambitious dreams, thanks to his fornicating dark side. A late internal monologue from Devereaux as he looks up at the New York landscape from the luxurious home where he is under house arrest tries to invest some hackneyed notion of disillusionment on his part, brought on by ideology that has been destroyed by what he regards as the real truth when he began to work for the World Bank; to paraphrase, life is just shit, so why not be a dickhead.

Paul Farren

125 mins

Welcome to New York is released on 8th August 2014

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