In this thinly disguised examination of the recent scandals surrounding Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Gerard Depardieu plays Devereaux, a powerful and unscrupulous man who uses women, and casts them aside. Although he has the financial fate of nations in his hands, he seems unable to control his own destiny.
The good news first, if you ever wanted to see Gerard Depardieu full frontal naked, straining, sweating and grunting as he takes advantage of women before being thrown into jail, then Welcome to New York is the movie for you. The Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair played out in the public eye, and writer/director Abel Ferrara seems all too aware of this, so uses the movie as a way to play out sexual fantasies on the screen, rather than giving us any insight into the characters portrayed.
There is really very little point in going into the performances here – although the women faced with a naked Depardieu have to be commended for their strength. Ferrara is trying to make a statement about wealth, power and addiction, but since the central character denies his actions, and seems to learn nothing from his time in prison, it is difficult to take a message from the film, other than don’t rape women, but we knew that anyway.
The sex scenes are necessary – to an extent – to understand the type of character Deveraux is, but under Ferrara’s direction, there are too many, they go on too long and are utterly gratuitous. It seems that Ferrara never heard the phrase ‘Less is more’. As well as this, by not taking a stand in terms of tone, Welcome to New York feels like a litany of Deveraux’s exploits and punishment, as opposed to a film that truly tries to understand the actions of a sex addicted, violent man.
In all, Welcome to New York is a completely unnecessary film. Devereaux comes off in an unfavourable light, but only because we, as the audience, as repulsed by his actions. The sex scenes are disgustingly gratuitous and it seems that no-one truly learns anything throughout the film. It is little wonder that Strauss-Kahn and his ex-wife intend to sue the filmmaker, and that the film failed to be accepted into this year’s Cannes Film Festival.