As played with startlingly veracity by Jonas Dassler, there's nothing romantic about him: a deformed nose, shuffling gait, slack-jawed and with a misaligned eye, he looks exactly like the man responsible for the deaths of at least four women in 1970s Hamburg.
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For better or worse, Akin’s eye remains a remarkable thing, as he arranges even the most emptily nihilistic parts of The Golden Glove with the gravitas of arresting visual geometry, and casts every role to sick perfection. It’s just his vision that seems to be the problem.
On some level, Fritz’s story is compulsive viewing, only you wish you weren’t there.
Akin has made the true story of a repulsive, grotesque serial killer into a repulsive, grotesque movie, a calamitous misfire for a critical darling of recent German cinema.
The Golden Glove may not celebrate its subject, but the intimate examination it offers him is itself a privilege — one for which this ugly, unenquiring film scarcely makes a case.
Whatever pleasure there is to be found in watching a film like The Golden Glove is in the intellectualizing, and the film does prompt a series of provocative questions about the implicit contract between artist and audience.
Apart from its grisliness, its hopelessness, and its pointlessness, what strikes you most about this true-crime movie is its brownness.
The Golden Glove is, in the most basic sense, well constructed. It’s also the kind of movie you may end up wishing you’d never seen. Even hardcore Akin devotees should proceed with caution, and be ready for disillusionment. The craftsmanship is there. But Akin’s judgment has gone AWOL, and with it, his heart.
Perhaps the question is not whether the film needed to be so relentlessly grim, but rather whether it needed to be made at all.