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Berlinale 2019: The Golden Glove

Reviewed by Simon Ramshaw.

Director Fatih Akin
Length 110 mins
Certificate
Rating ********--
Filmmaking: 4  Personal enjoyment: 4

Photo from the article We should thank our lucky stars that Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids 4-D: All the Time in the World (2011) was a flop. That very specific format of 4-D was a kind of primitive smell-o-vision, telling the audience to use their ‘scratch-‘n’-sniff’ cards at various points throughout the film. If Fatih Akin had followed suit for his latest effort, it’s entirely possible people would have died in their seats. The Golden Glove is a film so steeped in filth and rankness that the sheer power of the image lifts off the screen like a sulphurous gas. To quote Ron Burgundy, “it stings the nostrils.” When it’s had its way with those, the film somehow finds new ways of creeping into your body and making you sick to the pit of your stomach. It’s great fun.

To take any another approach with such a rancid narrative would ultimately be of disservice to the true story behind it. Chronicling the career of evil pursued by full-time drunkard/part-time serial killer Fritz Honka (Jonas Dassler, who is the age of this reviewer, playing a 39 year old pervert very convincingly), the film takes a few prolonged episodes from his life in a similar fashion to The House that Jack Built (2018), only without the hyper-intellectual self-reflexivity. At one seemingly irreverent point in Lars von Trier’s epic treatise on cinematic torture, Matt Dillon’s Jack describes the elegance of the “noble rot” that is essential to making a great wine. The Golden Glove, as it goes, is just all rot. Honka’s teeth, for instance, are caked with decades of plaque; his ropey apartment is decaying from every angle, and the vulnerable women he prays upon are so spaced-out that they might as well be zombies.

It is this blending of horror tropes and various sub-genres that creates a kind of cumulative effect, making Akin’s film more disgusting and exhausting as it limps on towards its logical endpoint. All things considered, it’s difficult not to admire something so utterly horrifying, which is really the case with all truly successful gore movies.

This review was published on February 21, 2019.

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