The intro to The Golden Glove was an interesting and almost concerning. Before the premiere at Fantastic Fest we were greeted by a host that let the audience know a total of 4 times that this movie was going to be intense, that film critics had described it as ‘vile’ and she even let the audience know that if they couldn’t handle it, nobody would be offended if they left the theater all together. She left everyone looking around at each other with the hive concern of “What are we about to experience and what have we got ourselves into?”
The films director, Fatih Akin was actually from the neighborhood that Honka was from. Akin even described how relatives of his had even rode the bus with Honka at a certain point. The portrait is given its furious and unrelenting approach from a guy who was a kid while all this was going down. Part of what he must have pictured at the time is brought over and thrown up on the screen for us to experience the way he had as a youth.
Honka is played by sublimely by Jonas Dassler. The transformation that Dassler achieves both physically and psychologically is dazzling. When we are first introduced to Honka he is attempting to shuffle a body down some stairs for disposal. When a little girl comes out to see what the noise is she and we are met with what is essentially the boogie man himself. Dassler turns to us as an audience and as well as the little girl and shoos her off scaring the pants off of us and the small girl. The make up effects in applied to Dassler deserve awards on their own, transforming the handsome young actor into a twisted take on the actual Honka. Dassler grabs hold of you, embodying all of Honka’s proclivities and perversions and takes the audience along the journey kicking and screaming.
When I say this film is gross or disgusting, it has very little to do with the violence in the film. Although that is brutal as well. It instead has to do with the dinge that stains the films runtime. Everything is tainted and almost rotting in front of you. The people that occupy The Golden Glove are worn, and scarred or fouled in someway. The entire thing leaves you with the need to take a shower after the films over.
For all the ugliness in the film, Akin and editor Andrew Bird do a beautiful job of making this film an absolute achievement in cinema. The result is something so powerful that hours after the film you still feel like you are inside Honka’s flat. The execution is entirely flawless. It is a production design that rings a little too true and then pushes that further into a grimy, lonely black hole.
Editor, Bird is entirely precise with every cut and decision that he brings to the film. One scene in-particular features the sound of a woman screaming, while the actual scene depicts a boiled goat head’s jaw being yanked open and its tongue by a pair of scissors. The screaming ceases with that clip. The choice is a standout moment. Someone give this dude all of the editing awards right now.
The Golden Glove is hard film to recommend. Its fantastic film… and yet, its difficult to push someone else into experiencing it. Our hosts intro was correct. It isn’t an enjoyable film. It’s tainted, tragic and vicious. I’ve gone back and forth on it and realized it had got me and that inability to let it go is the ultimate sign of truly great cinema. I hate to say it, but I loved it.