Not much shines in the world of The Golden Glove, and its characters — the dregs of society — find little glove-like protection from what ails them.
Their armor of choice: alcohol — the surface meaning of the title: they’re denizens of a bar of the same name — which only spirals them further down into their own woe(s). And our protagonist — eerily embodied from unrecognizable head-to-toe by an Academy-Award-worthy Jonas Dassler, caked in monstrous makeup as impressive as last year’s nominee Border — throws a bloodier ingredient into the concoction of misery that is his existence: murder.
Reflecting its subjects — and subject matter — the movie’s ugly, dirty, askew, hideous, filthy, messy, dark, weird, inscrutable, off-putting, unsettling, cruel, savage, disturbing, depraved, perverse, and perverted. In other words, it’s a complete and total oddity.
AKA: life, for so many of these and other outcasts.
The same question can be asked of this point, and the whole movie: is it merely repeating the obvious, albeit in an altered, abnormal milieu?
…or is that, yet again, by design, a case of art imitating life? Our days may look and feel new, but we’re stuck in the same cycles of human and societal turpitude, fueled by the toxins amongst us, which are neither intoxicating nor tonics (it’s hard not to think of incels).
Is there a method to this madness? Does it mean something that he’s hit by a bus outside a nunnery, the occupants of which save him? Is it a punishment from on high for his dastardly deeds, a wasted opportunity to reverse course? The skull that appears in the ash cloud that spells his ultimate demise also seems to suggest a spiritual component lording over us, but is there any hope of breaking these aforementioned cycles? Or are we pissing — here, shown literally — on the future, and future generations?
Does the setting clarify the movie’s rhyme or reason: Germany, decades after World War Two. Though swastikas are nowhere to be found, the lives of these drunks would’ve been defined by the Holocaust, whether they were the ones subjected to its evils or doing the subjecting. The official fighting might be over, but the violence remains, and maybe it always will (and some still blame “others” — in this case, Greeks — for their own sins). And our fleeting strolls down more conventionally “civilized” lanes ain’t much prettier.
Does it change our understanding that the movie depicts a true story, that of serial killer Fritz Honka, which those of us unfamiliar with his tale only learn upon seeing the crime scene photos over the closing credits (there’s no “based on a” prefatory title card)? And why does the makeup make him uglier?
Is there anything to figure out here, and by here I mean in both the movie and life? Are we able to add it all up to…something? Anything? But what?
These all might be familiar questions, but The Golden Glove’s bizarre enough to keep us actively searching for the answers…which may not exist.