Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Welcome to New York' Erotic but Engaging

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Welcome to New York' Erotic but Engaging

Article excerpt

There's no point in mincing words. Director Abel Ferrara's "Welcome to New York" is an invitation to spend two hours with a repulsive character. It is also a compelling movie because of the fearless performance of Gerard Depardieu at its very dark and decadent heart.

Mr. Depardieu plays Devereaux, a corpulent, but charismatic French libertine based loosely on Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund and one of the most powerful politicians in France. If that name sounds vaguely familiar, it should.

In 2011, Mr. Strauss-Kahn, who was often referred to in the American media by his initials "DSK," was accused by a hotel maid in New York of sexually assaulting her. The NYPD pulled him from a flight that would have spirited him back to France minutes before it taxied from the departure gate.

From the moment he was frog-marched through a scrum of paparazzi tipped off about his arrest, DSK became a fixture of New York's rabid tabloid media. His vast wealth and political influence didn't insulate him from the indignities of the American criminal justice system, a presumption of guilt that scandalized and angered the French.

While awaiting trial, DSK lived under house arrest in a luxury New York apartment as reporters and television crews stood vigil outside. The spectacle grew as the trial date approached only to be short-circuited by the district attorney's decision not to proceed because its office had lost confidence in DSK's accuser's story and its ability to prove a rape occurred.

Free to return to Paris, DSK insisted that any sexual encounter between him and the maid had been consensual, and that the disparities in wealth and power between them had made him a target of financial opportunity.

This is the nonfiction background for director Ferrara's fictional take on the DSK affair. In a script he co-wrote with Chris Zois, the director takes plenty of liberties with the outline of the scandal to create a space for the larger than life Mr. Depardieu to comfortably inhabit.

"Welcome to New York" is a film that refuses to look away from the sweaty and intensely graphic nature of sex. …

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