It’s almost impossible to care about anyone, or anything, in Welcome to New York. Abel Ferrara certainly likes his nasty, corrupted protagonists. From The Driller Killer to Bad Lieutenant, this is the work of a director who’s used to working with the most vicious of lead men. His latest is Mr. Devereaux, a powerful man who works for a bank and is ambitious to become the president of France. Mr. Devereaux seems to have money to burn and the ability to control all those around him. It is his dominance, control and sex addiction that eventually leads to his downfall. The film is split into two halves. The first follows Mr. Devereaux’s daily life, moving from offices to hotels and from one prostitute to the next. Everything he does is done defiantly. He sees nothing disgraceful or undignified about his behaviour, unlike us as the audience who have to sit through numerous aggressive and soulless sexual escapades. The second half of the film shows the misogynist facing the courts, and the consequences, of his selfish and brutish behaviour. From start to finish we don’t like Mr. Devereaux but sadly we don’t like his wife, his daughter, his friends or his sexual partners either. Welcome to New York is so uninteresting, flat and limp that we not only dislike the characters but could’t give two hoots about what happens to them; just or unjust, good or bad.
Before the narrative begins, a brief clip appears of actor Gérard Depardieu discussing his character. Depardieu himself mentions how he dislikes Mr. Devereaux and highlights the importance of “feeling” rather than acting. The clip stayed with me during the screening as Depardieu certainly inhabits his character and his vile nature. France’s biggest actor is no stranger to scandal, something the media has never failed to pick up on, and this seems to benefit Welcome to New York greatly. His performance is sturdy and convincing, managing to portray a true monster to the audience – but it is a boring monster nonetheless. Depardieu does what he can within the limits of a poorly handled and clumsily directed movie. Jacqueline Bisset, whom I’ve always enjoyed previously, gives a very laboured and questionable performance in scenes that you are begging to end. Her entrance into the narrative really brings the film to its lowest points; turning from rather dull to insufferable. Ferrara seems as unpredictable and erratic as ever, making some absurd stylistic choices that are confusing and annoying. The moment Depardieu breaks the forth wall is the moment I gave up on Welcome to New York. The relentless sexual aggression and lack of narrative flow is enough to make anyone take a drill to the head.
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