Friday, 15 August 2014

REVIEW - WELCOME TO NEW YORK (ABEL FERRARA)


Abel Ferrara's New York skyline doesn't soar up into the sky, it looms down, the buildings peering over into one another, casting the city in a murky gloom as its salacious gaze loiters in the callous expectation that something sordid is about to occur. And, this being Abel Ferrara's New York, that expectation is bound to be met. Identifying an obvious conduit for his standard sensationalism, he tackles the Dominique Strauss-Kahn arrest with a glorious disregard for tact and decency, willfully courting controversy in this caustic portrait of a man who had the means to do exactly the same. Ferrara brings nothing truly new to the story of the scandal, save perhaps a brilliant brazenness when it comes to depicting the most explicit details, but the purpose of his graphic early scenes becomes clear as the consequences of M. Devereaux's actions finally threaten to derail his life, as well as his wife's. They're not just exposition, they're explanation, and Ferrara uses them to spin off in the unexpected direction of coarse, raggedy marital drama. In an environment where even the most luxurious of surroundings have been intentionally made to appear grubby and close, Ferrara condemns all that which his native country exalts: fame, wealth, power, success. The disarming realism with which he directs belies the pessimism he has imposed upon every element of this tale - he neglects to expand upon each individual figure's personal agency, instead presenting them as wholly believable characters committing wholly reprehensible actions. From Welcome to New York's crass beginnings, through the thrilling course of the bitter relationship drama Ferrara lingers over, eventually onto a dispiriting meditation on the individual, and one's relationship with oneself. We end up playing shrink over this couple, even literally at some points, peering over into their souls, seeing what they see, and so much more.