‘The Golden Glove’ Review: Honka, Portrait of a Serial Killer

Filmmakers can have a tough time distinguishing themselves in the crowded serial-killer genre. For Fatih Akin, the director of “The Golden Glove,” the solution seems to have been making his movie as vomitous as possible.

The film is based on a novel taken from the exploits of Fritz Honka, who was sent to prison in Germany after police discovered the dismembered bodies of several women in his Hamburg apartment in the 1970s. Luckily, the movie is not being presented in Odorama, which spares viewers the aroma of decaying flesh that Honka (Jonas Dassler) repeatedly blames on his neighbors’ cooking. But if you’ve ever longed to hear the sound of a saw cutting through neck gristle mixed for Dolby Atmos, this Cannes-prize-winning filmmaker has you covered.

“The Golden Glove” mainly shuttles between two locations, squalid and more squalid. One is the red-light-district bar that provides the movie’s title, where Honka hangs out with Hamburg’s most down-and-out reprobates and picks up aging prostitutes. The other is Honka’s attic apartment, which gets a fruitless cleaning when the mostly oblivious Gerda (Margarethe Tiesel) accompanies Fritz home one night and sticks around.

Apart from upping the ante for grossness, Akin apparently discerns a strain of dark comedy in Honka. The rotten-toothed, sweaty antihero — whose glasses magnify his eyes to a cartoonish degree — is portrayed as a buffoon until the moments when, again and again, he suddenly snaps and starts hitting women.

Akin may deserve credit for not flinching from the grotesque; other serial-killer-adjacent entertainments, like “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Zodiac” or “Mindhunter,” tend to concentrate on the cerebral mechanics of crime solving. But sordid details, undermined by snickers, aren’t in themselves illuminating.

The Golden Glove

Not rated. In German and Greek, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 55 minutes.

The Golden Glove

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