Welcome to New York [Fantasia 2014]
Anyone up for a Gerard Depardieu sex tape? Anyone??
I was able to attend a screening of Abel Ferrara’s latest film, Welcome to New York, with the legendary director himself introducing it to the audience. It was odd because he did not seem sure about it. He spoke about how it was difficult sell the film and how it felt longer than any of his other work. After watching it, I admit that even though it is not a very long film, it does feel long, like a Gus Van Sant movie gone wrong. As for his difficulty selling the film, it is obvious after 10 minutes of constant sex scenes why. I am not sure anyone will be missing out.
The film gives a fictional interpretation of the infamous “The People of the State of New York v. Strauss-Kah” case where the head of the IMF and French presidential candidate Dominique Strauss-Kah faced sexual assault charges. Though the film changes the names, it doesn’t hide at all what it is based on, and the fact that the main character, played by Gerard Depardieu, represents an actual non fictional person boggles my mind. The man is supposed to be smart, charismatic and powerful but you would never get that from this film. I kid you not, all you see this man do in this film is have sex, attempt to rape women, undress and sit down (in various orders). That is all he does.
There is nothing that I see before me that gives me a hint that this man is more than a complete psychopath, let alone someone smart enough to be the head of the IMF and a candidate for the French presidency. The very first scene is a business meeting where he is surrounded by women and offering his business associate a blowjob. When the business associate refuses and leaves, he fondles the women around him. That was the one chance the director had at showing us that this man was not a total caricature. Instead we are presented with a film that is completely unrealistic right off the bat. Then Gerard Depardieu has sex with women in the following three scenes. And we see it all. He fondles their breasts, grunts like an animal and finishes in their various orifices. If you don't know who Depardieu is, look him up and read that again. Needless to say, if I wanted to watch porn, I would do it at home and I certainly would not want it to star Gerard Depardieu.
There is one sole hint that there is more to the character than just a psycho rapist and it comes from Jacqueline Bisset, who is too phenomenal an actress to be giving it her all in something like Welcome To New York. She plays his wife, and though I am not convinced in the least that the main character can be charming, it's not what her character sees. She sees a charming man, someone she believes in, and though I can’t see it, I can see that she does. Their back and forth is very grounded too, which is a brief breath of fresh air in this film. The scenes they share are usually long takes, adding to the realism of the conversation and the honesty of the characters. I can however only remember two such scenes.
You will notice I did not mention the courtroom much and there is good reason for it. Though the film is about the court case, most of Welcome To New York is flashbacks of the main character having sex with random women or attempting to rape them. Big surprise! It then ends on an anticlimactic note where the audience is left with no indication that there is any arc to speak of or any purpose for anything we just witnessed. I suggest reading the wiki entry on the court case instead, you will get more out of it and you won’t have Gerard Despardieu’s ass shoved in your face.
3 stars out of 10
-Will, you can follow me on @willmorizio