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The 72nd Berlin International Film Festival will take place from February 10 to 17, 2022 under the motto "It all (re)starts here".
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The Golden Glove by Fatih Akin: Berlinale Review

Meager, for the most part, is the attempt by Fatih Akin to recreate the unambitious life of Fritz Honka, a schizophrenic killer who, in the seventies of Hamburg, brutally murders and dismembers four prostitutes in his hideous attic. 

 


Unquestionably crowned the most abominable film of 2019, Akin does not hesitate to employ explicit sound and image from the very 

top of the film, capable of provoking feelings of horror and outrage even to the most hardcore splatter fans. Pornographic photos stuck on the wall in an unorderly fashion, dilapidated cigarette butts, a filthier toilet than the one that McGregor dived into Trainspotting, as well as a plethora of Kornbranntwein bottles, acquaint us with the crime scene. 


Confronted with the large proportions of his most recent victim, after miserably failing to insert the body successfully in a plastic bag, Honka begins the process of dismemberment - with a chainsaw - in order to dispose of it effectively. 

 

Luckily for us, Akin sets limitations to the scene, providing us with an acoustic rather than visual experience of the event. Although this scene may only last a few minutes, it feels centenary to the viewer. Besides being deranged, Honka is also a fanatic racist, attributing the foul odour of the building to his Greek neighbours


Honka’s face is barely tolerable, as the repellent malformations urge us to maneuver our heads away from the screen, especially during the frequent close-ups. In the "Golden Glove", the tasteless bar from which Honka "collects" his slimy looking female victims, uninterrupted debauchery prevails. Beguiling them with more alcohol, Honka manages to seduce some of the prostitutes to his revolting attic. 

 

None of them escape Honka’s opprobrium. The pattern is copious; humiliation, vigorous rape and severe sadistic activity, prior to murder by beating. And whilst we have repeatedly come across the degradation of the female on the big screen,  Honka’s brutality seriously digresses from anything we have seen before. 


More shocking perhaps is the fact that this is a true story, based on the murders of Fritz Honka who murdered at least four women in the St. Pauli suburb of Hamburg, before being discovered by the authorities after his attic caught fire. Akin is exposes us to some biographical excerpts; the real paraphernalia of the murder, photos of his home in St Pauli, as well as his deformed face. 

 

Sadly, the film disregards Honka’s psychological state, hence failing to build a meaningful, engrossing storyline. A crude, unrefined depiction of one more barbarian, which has left us tight-lipped (and not in the good way), in light of Akin’s previous creations (see Soul Kitchen). Jonas Dassler, an outstanding impersonator, manages to keep us peeled. Otherwise, opt for The House that Jack Built, the aftertaste is definitely sweeter.

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Berlin 2019: The dailies from the Berlin Film Festival brought to you by our team of festival ambassadors. Vanessa McMahon, Alex Deleon, Laurie Gordon, Lindsay Bellinger and Bruno Chatelin...
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