‘The Golden Glove’ is a fascinating tapestry of decay

Fatih Akin, Turkish-German director with international acclaim, has a reputation. His background as the child of Turkish immigrants is irrefutably ingrained into his films, which work through a headstrong voice that continuously offers a refreshing perspective in the overwhelmingly white realm of contemporary German auteur cinema. His cinema is angry and often more focused on its morally ambiguous character’s journey than the ever-present politics of their situation. This is an approach that doesn’t always work out: 2017’s In The Fade slightly stumbles when it shifts from a political testimony of judicial failure to personal revenge tale, but it’s nonetheless fascinating to watch how Akin’s clings to this kind of storytelling and attempts to dissect the personal implications of the political.
He continues this narrative attempt with his newest film, The Golden Glove, an adaptation of a novel based on a real-life case, and sparked controversy in the 2019’s Berlinale competition as a result. Critics of national and international outlets harshly criticized the unflinchingly graphic story of serial killer Fritz Honka, who centers the films politically loaded narrative and whose violent acts against women leave a deep feeling of unease and disgust in the viewer’s gut. It’s absolutely legitimate criticism, but busy festival schedules and a perhaps biased (and understandable) attitude against the serial killer narrative might have blocked out the film’s qualities as a rich and engaging study of the marks of psychological violence that the wars of the 20th century left on German society.

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‘In the Fade’ and the performance the Academy forgot

Director Fatih Akin is known for his cross-cultural exploration of the lives and struggles of German Turks through tales of loss and forgiveness in critically acclaimed films like Head On (2004) and The Edge of Heaven (2007). Akin’s newest drama, In the Fade, explores these themes even deeper.

Denis Moschitto and Diane Kruger in Aus dem Nichts (2017) © Warner Brothers

Set in the German-Turkish community of Akin’s hometown of Hamburg, the film follows Katja (Diane Kruger) as she struggles to cope with and comprehend the senseless act of violence committed on her husband Nuri (Numan Acar) and son Rocco (Rafael Santana).

The film is inspired by the National Socialist Underground murders that occurred between 2000-2007. These xenophobic attacks on German Turks throughout the country, at the hands of three NSU members, left ten dead.  In the film, Katja’s husband and six-year-old son are the casualties of a nail bomb by two members of a neo-Nazi terrorist group.

Divided into three parts, In the Fade is a stylish revenge thriller, but don’t expect anything like John Wick. It’s a slow-burn in the best way.

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