Before We Vanish by Joe Biglin Film

The Golden Glove | Fatih Akin

September 27, 2019

Nearly everything and everybody is disgusting in Fatih Akin’s The Golden Glove. That is, besides an attractive blonde high schooler whom serial killer/rapist Fritz Honka (Jonas Dassler) lusts after. In a typical slasher film, this girl would represent our POV, with Fritz being some terrifying enigma — one we might hate, but also be magnetically drawn to, as he drives the plot with some terrifying, weirdly sexy brand of swagger. But Akin’s adaptation of Heinz Strunk’s 2016 novel is decidedly a deconstruction of our half-hearted and quintessentially American expectation to identify with killers.

From the gratuitous sound design of the opening kill, there’s hardly a single appealing frame for Honka, who’s portrayed by Dassler as an openly celebratory racist/misogynist/nationalist living in the wake of Germany’s post-war economic boom. Honka is one of many colorful, uneducated, alcoholic characters who frequent the red-light district watering hole “Zum Goldene Handshuh” (for reference: another regular is a proud former Nazi). Akin presents his film as an over-the-top gross-out parade (just try to count the number of cold sores) and it would be fair to say that there’s a certain mean-spirited quality to the filmmaker’s depiction of ugliness — at least, at first glance. Check those expectations at the door, though: the scenarios of The Golden Glove veer off-course quickly, in a way reminiscent of the treatment of Matt Dillon’s short-sighted serial killer in Lars von Trier’s The House That Jack Built. Akin’s script puts far less emphasis on the act of murder (though there is plenty of that) than on the sad mundanity of addiction and the social lives of those who live with it.

Published as part of Berlin International Film Festival 2019 | Dispatch 2.