WELCOME TO NEW YORK

 

Director: Abel Ferrara

 

The Mayfair Theatre, October 10 – 17

Spoiler alert: Gerard Depardieu has let himself go. To hammer that point home Abel Ferrara puts him through a strip search ordeal with real cops at Rikers. It’s a powerful bit of realistic fiction, with Depardieu revealing a mammoth Family Guy girth. It’s an unsettling, methodical, poignant bit of cinema, and a jarring, bleak interlude that acts as a cold hard slap of reality, in what is a thinly disguised retelling of the infamous Dominique Strauss Kahn scandal.

Depardieu is larger than life here, and not just physically, as a boorish financier with a lascivious libido. He steam rolls through life – seemingly nothing more than a series of debaucherous sexual escapades – riding his upper class entitlement and an unabashed sex openness (oh those French!). It all comes crashing down in a New York hotel after he decides to service room service who as it turns out, wants nothing to do with a nude Asterix character. Nasty, vile and unsettling, the stumbling attack turns out to be a crime which may destroy presidential aspirations.

As Mr. Devereaux, Depardieu delivers his best performance in years, creating a character who is part irresistible charmer but also a naïve, yet monsterous and hideous sex addict. Welcome to New York  is a difficult watch, especially since it focuses solely on Devereaux, but it does succeed in opening up a big ol’ can of escargot. It was banned from Cannes, ostracized by French cinema, and is under legal battle with Kahn.

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