WELCOME TO NEW YORK – Review by Susan Granger

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Remember when French politician/former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested in Manhattan? On May 14, 2011, he allegedly forced himself sexually on a Guinean housekeeper, Nafissatou Diallo, at the Sofitel Hotel. That misadventure is fictionalized by director Abel Ferrara, who changed the names for obvious reasons. Read on…

The opening montage depicts Washington, D.C.’s historical landmarks, specifically including American currency rolling off the presses at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, accompanied by Paul Hipp’s musical strains of “America the Beautiful.” In addition, it’s established early in the narrative that financier George Deveraux (Gerard Depardieu) relishes his uninhibited, over-privileged, hedonistic lifestyle.

During his one-night stay at New York’s Carlton Hotel, Deveraux enjoys the carnal company of several prostitutes – before pressing himself, naked, on a chambermaid (Pamela Afesi) in his suite. Then it’s off to a lavish lunch with his daughter, Sophie (Marie Moute), and her boy-friend, Josh (JD Taylor), where he orders bouillabaisse, joking that the seafood dish is “like a sex party with the fishes.”

Later that day, as he’s attempting to board a plane to Paris, Deveraux is arrested, interrogated and incarcerated. Then comes his home detention at the $60,000/month Tribeca townhouse, paid for by his furious, long-suffering wife Simone (Jacqueline Bisset).

Although Ferrara (“Bad Lieutenant”) and co-screenwriter Chris Zois (“New Rose Hotel”) altered names to avoid lawsuits, it’s obvious that slobbering, grunting Gerard Depardieu is playing Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Jacqueline Bisset is his then-wife, the ambitious French-American socialite heiress/journalist Anne Sinclair, who had once harbored hopes that he would be elected President of France.

According to press notes, Ferrara filmed in the same Franklin Street mansion where DSK served out his time and cast some of NYPD officials to reprise their real-life roles on-screen.

For the record: while criminal charges were eventually dropped due to inconsistencies in Diallo’s testimony, a subsequent civil trial ended in an undisclosed settlement payment.

In English and French, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Welcome to New York” is a sordid 6, recreating a notorious scandal.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.