Alwara Höfels has been on the trail of the perpetrators for years as a commissioner at the "crime scene" in Dresden. In the ARD crime thriller "Death is coming to Venice" on Saturday at 8:15 p.m., the actress can now be seen as an unwilling investigator. And their investigations lead to an opaque art scene.
Venice is of course uniquely beautiful - but as a filming location it was a challenge for a television crew, Höfels recalls. She knows what she's talking about. "The often heavy equipment has to be transported by boat. You always depend on the weather conditions," reports the 40-year-old in an interview with the German Press Agency about the shooting last autumn.
"Depending on the water level, the things could then be unloaded or not. Sometimes you had to rethink and approach a motif from another canal. And in some of the smallest waterways, the boats had to come to terms with others." All of this cost a lot of money during production, says Höfels.
In all of this, a rather unusual TV crime mystery has emerged in the city on the lagoon and in Vienna, which also takes viewers into the world of art. Höfels is Anna, a physiotherapist working in Vienna and mother of 11-year-old autistic Paul (Filip Wyzinski). Suddenly she has to go to Venice, because that's where her husband Lukas (Roman Binder, "Der Wien-Krimi") was found dead, his body floating in a canal.
Lukas had been a respected restorer, most recently working on Botticelli's painting "Portrait of a Lady" for a city museum. He was also gifted at replicating works of art. The director of the museum (Julia Stemberger, "Sisi") now accuses the dead of forgery: Lukas only returned a deceptively real imitation from his studio to her house. But where is the precious original from the Renaissance?
As for Lukas' death in the water, police officer Santo (Rudy Ruggiero) assumes it's a typical drunk foreigner's accident and closes his file. Paul, on the other hand, accuses Anna, played melancholically by Höfels, of being responsible for her father's accident. Their relationship had recently been difficult.
So the widow, who sent Lukas a mysterious art postcard shortly before his death, decides to take the investigation into her own hands. Meanwhile, Rafael (Christopher Schärf, "Die Toten vom Bodensee"), a smart gallery owner and best friend of the deceased, wants to take care of her and her son in the lagoon city.
The film, quietly directed by crime expert Johannes Grieser ("A strong team") based on Stefan Wild's script, in which the heroine also encounters cackling chickens in her husband's run-down apartment and the rich art collector Mr. Lee (Hyun Wanner) in his Palazzo meets, impresses with its wealth of feints and insider details from the art scene. Although a perpetrator attracts suspicion (all too) early on, the emotional states of those involved remain complex until the end, finely drawn by the actors.
But how did Höfels, who caused a sensation in 2019 and 2021 alongside Dieter Hallervorden in the film and mini-series "My friend, the disgust", perceived the city for herself personally? "It was actually my virginal very first time in Venice," tells the Berlin-based dpa. "I'm fascinated by this floating city and I'm still wondering how everything works. In Venice you can walk everywhere and you're always confronted with dreamlike scenery, alleys and squares." Despite hardly having any free time, she was able to see a little of the everyday life of the residents. "I had a small apartment in the student district and found it exciting to be there, where a lot of life, including young life, happens." Fortunately, the city was not overcrowded at the end of the year.