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.