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Berlin


The 70th Berlinale International Film Festival will be held from February 20 to March 1, 2020.
Our team of festival ambassadors and reporters bring you the dailies from the Berlin Film Festival and European Film Market and keep an eye on past editions archives. WATCH OUR VIDEO COVERAGE TRAILERS INTERVIEWS AND AMBIANCE   PHOTOS

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The Golden Glove (Der goldene Handschuh): one of the stronger Berlinale competition films

 

(© Boris Laewen / 2018 bombero int./Warner Bros. Ent.)

 

By LINDSAY R. BELLINGER

Honestly speaking, I had heard negative reviews from many journalists before heading into the extra press screening for Der goldene Handschuh (The Golden Glove). The first two press screenings at Cinemaxx Potsdamer Platz were already to the max 20 minutes before the screening even started. I've never seen that happen before. There were so many of us standing there, a bit stunned and surprised that we didn't make the cut even though we arrived early. The chatter after the first round of screenings was undeniably bleak, from male and female journalists alike. It seems that many were shocked and disgusted at the amount of brutality on-screen, with what they found to be no explanation really as to why Fritz Honka (unrecognizably and convincingly portrayed by Jonas Dassler) murdered all of those women in Hamburg in the early 1970s. He viciously murdered middle-aged women he picked up from the local Kneipe (bar or pub for those who don't speak German) Der goldene Handschuh. My friend Susanne and I, both fans of Fatih Akin films, were going in with low expectations and we were actually pleasantly surprised. I noticed that the two of us laughed a bit more than many in the audience, and at least 10 to 12 people even left the screening early. This film was definitely the hottest ticket to score at this year's Berlinale, both in the press screenings and normal screenings. I heard many people grumbling that they couldn't get a ticket. So out of maybe 30 journalists who I talked to about The Golden Glove, only three really liked it, all women (me included in the three). One male German journalist actually told me that he found it too weak, not extreme or bloody enough. I can totally understand that because I was actually a bit disappointed that it wasn't more intense since I was expecting as such after hearing all the complaints from other critics. I can list plenty of other films that really left me more scarred after watching them, some of them serial killer-focused films and others not. Off of the top of my head, Maniac (the original from William Lustig not the watered down remake with Elijah Wood), David Fincher's Se7en and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer are the first to come to my mind. This isn't to say that The Golden Glove is by any means light fare, especially for those who are not accustomed to violent and bloody films. I feel like people are just surprised at this because it's coming from a German filmmaker who usually doesn't depict such things in his films. German cinema for a very long time now has been more comfortable showing nudity rather than violence, quite the opposite of US cinema. If this was a film attributed to Quentin Tarantino then I don't think many people would even bat an eyelash.  
 
The dark tone that Akin creates throughout much of The Golden Glove also is interspersed with moments of lightness, particularly revolving around a teenage boy and his beautiful blonde classmate, who seems to be both his and Honka's fantasy girl. Adam Bousdoukos, a frequent Fatih Akin collaborator, also is in the mix as a comic touch, as he portrays the Greek father who lives beneath Honka. Honka blames the putrid smell of the rotting corpses in his apartment on the stinky Greek family who lives underneath him. Having talked to some people who say that the novel written by famed German author/actor Heinz Strunk is far grittier and more depraved, I wonder what was left out that could have taken this film to the next level. One German journalist, the one who said the film wasn't extreme enough for his tastes, told me that he heard there was an earlier three-hour cut of the film that was far more intense and that Strunk and Akin had some disagreements regarding the tone of the film. This is definitely a book that I'm interested in reading, much like I was after watching Se7en when I was a young teen. These true crime stories that are fictionalized into films are always quite interesting to me. From what I've heard of the real Franz Honka, he was far more depraved than what the audience experiences in Akin's film. There are even some redeeming moments for him in the film, when he swears off alcohol and gets a normal job to try to live correctly. Although this doesn't last so long, the bottle calls him back after one of his co-workers, someone he sees as a potential love interest, coaxes him to have a drink with her. The scenes in the local bar with the other alcoholics are particularly entertaining as these characters have an interesting way to interact with one another. Although Dassler's portrayal of Honka is believable it won't likely elicit much audience sympathy. One finds oneself rooting for his ill-fated victims. These victims are also quite convincing in their roles and Akin's camera does not at all shy away from the ugliness of these characters of their fate. One particular moment of revenge that one of Honka's older lady victims enacts on him involves some spicy German mustard, which was a nice little victory for her although it didn't last that long. For those journalists and moviegoers who complain about the extreme violence and misogyny of this Fatih Akin film, I think that they should really dig deeper into Honka's true story, via news clippings and/or Strunk's book, before complaining about what is depicted in this based on a true story serial killer film. Much of the violence isn't even shows on-screen, but rather alluded to with authentic sounding, piercing sounds. If you want to watch a sugar-coated film that doesn't depict realistic violence and the depths of human perversion then please don't bother buying a ticket for a film that is about a serial killer. It generally isn't light fare, and it shouldn't be, unless of course you refer to Kathleen Turner's pitch-perfect turn as a homicidal mom in John Waters' cult classic Serial Mom
 
 
Germany / France 2019
Languages: German,  Greek  
Subtitles: English,  German
110 minutes
World premiere

CREW:

Written and directed by Fatih Akin

Based on the novel by Heinz Strunk

Cinematography: Rainer Klausmann
Editing: Andrew Bird, Franziska Schmidt-Kärner
Music: FM Einheit
Sound: Joern Martens
Production Design: Tamo Kunz
Costumes: Katrin Aschendorf
Make-up: Maike Heinlein, Daniel Schröder, Lisa Edelmann
Assistant Director: Scott Kirby
Casting: Monique Akin
Production Manager: Klaus Spinnler
Producers: Nurhan Sekerci-Porst, Fatih Akin, Herman Weigel
Co-producers: Willi Geike, Jérôme Seydoux, Sophie Seydoux, Ardavan Safaee
Co-production: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Hamburg
Pathé Films, Paris

 

CAST:

Jonas Dassler (Fritz Honka)
Margarethe Tiesel (Gerda Voss)
Katja Studt (Helga Denningsen)
Martina Eitner-Acheampong (Frida)
Hark Bohm (Dornkaat-Max)
Jessica Kosmalla (Ruth)
Barbara Krabbe (Anna)
Tilla Kratochwil (Inge)
Uwe Rohde (Herbert)
Marc Hosemann (Siggi)

 

 

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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...
Ambiance, film reviews, trailers and podcasts, EFM insider information, and much more.
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