“The Golden Glove” is the remarkably unpleasant true story of a German serial killer in the 1970s, told with matter-of-fact, steely-eyed brutality by Turkish-German filmmaker Fatih Akin. Jonas Dassler is uglied up real good to play Fritz Honda, a hunched, oily psycho with a wispy mustache lingering under his bulbous, blackhead-covered nose. He is the sort of person who inspires you to say, “OK, that makes sense,” when you learn that he is a serial killer. He hangs out in the title tavern, a dingy place with cigarette butts on the floor, always full of passed-out drunks, lumpy prostitutes, and old bags with cold sores. Fritz befriends some of these ladies, taking advantage of their low self-esteem to abuse them before killing them. Bodies are partially disposed of, but the remnants he keeps hidden in a back cupboard, blaming the Greeks downstairs for the smell.
Akin is unflinching in presenting this miserable story. The murders tend to happen in long, unbroken takes, coming after impressively choreographed fighting and struggling in Fritz’s squalid apartment. The actual onscreen violence is only moderately graphic, but the tension that precedes it and the vulnerability of the disheveled, oft-nude actors are excruciating. The film draws its style from “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” and is, like that seminal thriller, a technically precise and well-made movie that I have no desire to watch again. But unlike it, “The Golden Glove” fails to reveal any of its killer’s psychology: He’s a psycho; he hurts; he kills; the end. I don’t see how the film is of any value other than as a technical exercise (for filmmakers and actors, not murderers), but the craft of it is undeniable.
B (1 hr., 50 min.; German with subtitles; )