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Welcome to New York


Stars: Gerard Depardieu, Jacqueline Bisset, Marie Moute, Pamela Afesi, Paul Calderon, Shanyn Leigh, Amy Ferguson, Nikki James, Paul Hipp

Director: Abel Ferrara

Since Abel Ferrara’s back catalogue features such ‘notable’ movies as Bad Lieutenant and Dangerous Game he is usually hailed as an auteur. He certainly deserves high praise here for so vividly combining out-and-out porn worthy of the internet with a chilling police procedural that makes the usual examination of US police in action seem positively civilized by comparison.

Welcome to New York wants to have it both ways. In one distributor’s document we’re told the film was “Inspired by the headline-making events of 2011 when Dominique Strauss-Kahn was accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York”. In another, the comment is made that “nonetheless, the characters portrayed in the film and all sequences depicting their private lives remain entirely fictional”.

You decide.

The screenplay, by Ferrara and Chris Zois, has Gerard Depardieu giving his all and (in some admittedly telling sequences) rather too much more as a “a powerful man. A man who handles billions of dollars every day. A man who controls the economic fate of nations. A man driven by a frenzied and unbridled sexual hunger” enjoying eye-boggling sexual shenanigans in a New York hotel for the first anything-and-everything goes section of the story.

The next morning the still-unsatiated Depardieu encounters maid Pamela Afesi and triggers off the rest of the story which sees him being arrested as he boards a plane for Paris, stripped and humiliated by the New York police before being imprisoned and then released to be confined to a lavish mansion paid for by his wife Jacqueline Bisset, who does well in a largely thankless catalytic role.

Depardieu goes at his role with all the appetite of a sailor meeting his first female after 20 years alone on a desert island and is nothing if not impressively wholehearted in his characterisation, his body as naked as his sexual and dramatic poses. It’s a tour-de-force or, if you’re not convinced of Ferrara’s unique abilities, possibly a tour de farce decorated with soft porn for audience appeal.

Alan Frank

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Altitude Film. Colour.
125 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 3, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 3, Swearing 3.

Review date: 09 Aug 2014