Welcome to New York review: Not enough “yuck” in the whole wide world

Film Title: Welcome to New York

Director: Abel Ferrara

Starring: Gérard Depardieu, Jacqueline Bisset, Pamela Afesi

Genre: Drama

Running Time: 125 min

Fri, Aug 8, 2014, 01:00

   

According to successive diagnostic manuals, much peer-reviewed psychological literature and neurological imaging, sex addiction simply does not exist.

It is, however, the only pathetic excuse that Devereaux, the vile anti-hero of Welcome to New York, can muster.

Devereaux, as essayed by Gérard Depardieu at his most mountainous, is the main character in this film, which is billed as a piece of fiction. Yet following the film’s video-on-demand release in France, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, has said he will sue for defamation.

The film is not an easy watch. There’s not enough “yuck” in the whole wide world to cover Abel Ferrara’s portrait of a priapic plutocrat. The director’s representation of the rape of an African hotel maid (an affecting Pamela Afesi) is mercilessly ugly to behold. The film’s incorporation of subsequent allegations of sexual assault is equally discombobulating.

And yet these scenes make for comparatively pleasant viewing when placed beside Devereaux’s more routine sexual antics: an orgy of prostitutes, Viagra, brutality, objectification and, well, orgies.

Ferrara, who has never shied away from dark themes or monomaniacal behaviour, responds by playing the film’s opening sequences as straight up, gross-out pornography. Depardieu adds to the meaty grotesquery by pawing at breasts and vaginas as violently as he can.

The assault is a consequence of girth: picture the old-time school of fat wrestling exemplified by Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy with a sick and sinister twist.

Welcome to New York “abandons” its victim – cue archival footage – to focus on the domestic arrangements of Devereaux and his wife Simone (Jacqueline Bisset) as they settle into the world’s most exclusive jail: a ritzy apartment in Lower Manhattan with private guards employed from Simone’s swollen family fortune.

Bisset’s wronged wife is as shrill as she is exasperated.Her clipped speech does little to hide her disappointment. Having shouldered and covered up her husband’s sex parties for years, she knows she’ll never be a first lady now.

She finally wrinkles her nose and shouts at her errant husband for being “scummy”. “But I’m a sex addict,” he screams back. Pass the sick bag.

Never mind the upcoming As Above, So Below or Ouija; this is the horror film of 2014.