Of all the movies playing in competition here at the 69th Berlin Film Festival—officially known as the Berlinale—Fatih Akin’s The Golden Glove was the one with the most potential to make a splash Stateside.
That was until people actually saw it.
Akin, born in Germany and of Turkish heritage, is one of the most respected and just plain liked filmmakers in Germany. American audiences may be most familiar with his marvelous 2004 breakout film Head-On (its German title is Gegen die Wand, translating roughly to “Against the Wall”), in which an emotionally troubled young woman from a repressive Turkish family (Sibel Kikilli) talks her way into a platonic marriage with a decrepit fortyish rogue who has drunk a little too deeply from the trough of rock’n’roll (Birol Ünel). It’s a gorgeous, vital film about displacement and belonging, both in the country where you live and with the person in bed next to you.
Akin has made other movies since then, of course: The most recent was the thoughtful crime thriller In the Fade (2017), which won that year’s Golden Globe for best foreign-language film. But nothing has captivated American audiences as Head On did. And now, with The Golden Glove, Akin pushes that potential audience even further away. Adapted from a novel by Heinz Strunk, a best-seller in Germany, The Golden Glove tells the story of real-life killer Fritz Honka (played by Jonas Dassler) who murdered—and dismembered—at least four women in Hamburg in the early 1970s. Akin doesn’t downplay the grisly details, and even though much of the horrific violence takes place just off-screen, there’s nothing discreet about it: The sound of a hacksaw carving its way through a woman’s neck doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Not even the guy who’s doing the deed wants to hear it; he interrupts the task at hand to slap a record on the hi-fi, though it’s not clear if the schmaltzy ballad he’s playing is designed to muffle the sound or turn the event into a kind of sick celebration.
Honka is a hardcore weirdo who hangs out at the bar, in Hamburg’s red light district, that gives the movie its title. This is a place where forgotten, broken people show up to obliterate not just their memories, but their lives. Some are pathetic and sad; others are downright mean. Honka, a hunched loner with a lazy eye and meaty, molten features, drinks, drinks and drinks …
Source:: Time – Entertainment