Film inspired by the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair launched amid vulgar hype and legal doubts

Printed invitations to a midnight beach party in Cannes thrown by the movie’s producers were marked 'oral satisfaction guaranteed'
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Sex toys and condoms were among the gifts given to guests at the premiere of a film inspired by the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair  in Cannes.

Printed invitations to a midnight beach party in Cannes thrown by the movie’s producers were marked “oral satisfaction guaranteed”. Guests were handed a “Dirty Sex Kit” (DSK, get it?) containing a whip, handcuffs and a condom. They were encouraged to spray one another with water pistols containing fake sperm.

The film, Welcome to New York, starring a gargantuan and stark-naked Gérard Depardieu, was launched on the fringes of the Cannes film festival. Contrary to the advance indications of its producers, it appears to take sides in the controversy over the rape charges brought against Mr Strauss-Kahn in New York in 2011.

Read more: Welcome to New York review

The main character, called “Mr Devereux” is seen to attack a hotel chambermaid just after taking part in two orgies with prostitutes. Since the charges against Mr Strauss-Kahn were later dropped, the former International Monetary Fund chief’s lawyers were reported yesterday to be considering legal action.

Lawyers representing Mr Strausss-Kahn’s ex-wife, Anne Sinclair, were also reported to have studied the movie. The film has a scene in which the main character’s wife, “Simone”, played by Jacqueline Bisset, is accused of belonging to a French Jewish family which made a fortune from Second World War. Ms Sinclair’s family were wealthy but had property stolen during the war.

Ms Sinclair, editor of the French version of the Huffington Post news website took the unusual step last night, however of commenting on the film on her own site.

“I don’t attack filth, I spit it out,” she wrote.

First reviews by French and American movie critics praised Mr Depardieu’s acting, expressed revulsion at the sight of his naked body and objected to the film’s mingling of fact and speculation. New York police officers who helped investigate the “DSK affair” play themselves in the film, directed by Abel Ferrara. The Manhattan apartment used by Ms Sinclair while her husband was in custody, was also used in the film.

Steven Zeitchik in the LA Times said: “Whatever one’s feelings about the polarising figure (of DSK), there’s a bit of a difference between forming a personal opinion based on available evidence and making and distributing a movie asserting ironclad conclusions.”

Isabelle Regnier in Le Monde described Welcome to New York as a “great but sick film”.

“It is a film just as grotesque and suicidal as its main character, in which magnificent scenes alternate with clumsy ones,” she wrote. The baseless allegations against  Ms Sinclair’s Jewish family smacked of anti-semitism, she continued, and made the movie “indefensible”.

At a press conference,  Mr Depardieu  said: “The thought of (DSK) was at the back of my mind all the time. {But] the whole point was absolutely not to be like him. I was never to look like him or sound like him.”

The film, although produced by Wild Bunch, a French company, was mostly financed in the US. It counts therefore as an American movie – possibly the first French-speaking American film ever made.