Welcome to New York

Welcome to New York ★★★★

[Favorites—2010s]

While discussing a scene from Bad Lieutenant (1992) in his piece on Abel Ferrara, Kent Jones stated that "instead of reordering reality to suit his concept, he works with what's there." This certainly applies to one of the finest sequences in Ferrara’s fierce and striking new film, Welcome to New York. After being denied bail, the film’s protagonist, Gérard Depardieu's Devereaux, a thinly veiled analogue of former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is taken to jail and processed. This is likely as far as it went on paper. But it is something altogether remarkable on screen: a nearly 10-minute, almost real-time recreation of this "process." If it was not shot at an actual jail, then the setting must have been a similar correctional facility. From the peeling paint on the doors and pamphlet-laden walls to the bland institutional colors and lighting to the buzz of electronic prison door release, everything feels just right. And the same applies to the casual, indifferent mannerisms of the police officers—if they were not actors, then their work is even more impressive. I have witnessed hundreds of such moments in films and documentaries, but few are as vivid and detailed as what Ferrara has accomplished here.

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