The assault on the petrified chambermaid itself - shown in chilling exactitude - is striking in its tonal similarity to the earlier encounters. Devereaux's lack of humanity is manifested in his sexual acts. Even his caresses seem like forms of attack and, when they finally become that, he can't differentiate between rape and consensual sex. Indeed, his protestations of innocence centre only on the specificity of the act rather than the lack of consent. Sex, rape - all the same to a sociopath. Welcome to New York's second act follows Devereaux's arrest. It becomes a humiliating procedural in which he is spoken to like a criminal, handcuffed and excruciatingly strip-searched. It's the beast exposed; a moment of national catharsis for France in which their great hope-turned-disgrace is paraded for the baying jackals.
Even in these scenes, we understand Devereaux's power, but this time it's through the starkness of his forced passivity rather than his actions. The American justice system becomes the second monster and one beast falls to the mercy of another. What then unfolds is truly astonishing; the film closes in on itself, becoming a fatalistic, treatise on evil, culpability and performance, centring around conversations between an unrepentant Devereaux and his wife (Jacqueline Bisset). With Devereaux speaking in halting English, these conversations carry a sense of theatrical artifice that harks back to the prologue. Politics, sex, justice; it's all a performance. We are left ravaged, exhausted and hung out to dry. Ferrara's Welcome to New York is a savage work that's easily one of the best films of the year.