Jealousy and existential fear in the music industry feed the seventh film in the Styrian crime series on ARD, which is specific to the milieu.
Frankfurt – The chief inspector Sascha Bergmann (Hary Prinz) appreciates David Bowie and even more Bryan Ferry. Nicole Sturm (Bettina Mittendorfer) likes folk music with a touch of dialect. Things would never have worked out for the two of them, even if Bergmann hadn’t cheated on her with someone else.
bad karma Sturm got the job Bergmann had hoped for. Now she is his superior, which he tries to deal with resignedly and grumbling. In doing so and otherwise, he does not mince his words. To his colleague Anni Sulmtaler (Anna Unterberger), who says nothing about the name Bryan Ferry, he lectures while driving to a place where he can be found: “With the police, you can rise to the top floor as a wimp with connections and the right party book.”
In the Styrian thrillers based on templates by Claudia Rossbacher, from which the film adaptations have moved, one can count on plain text. And with sinister humour, a trademark of co-author and director Wolfgang Murnberger, who has made a name for himself with, among other things, film adaptations of his compatriot Wolf Haas’s Brenner thrillers.
“Steirerstern” on ARD: death of a singer
There are, for example, scenes like the one with the drug-addicted musician Luca Karall (Silvana Viet), who is just giving herself an injection and when colleague Sabine Jung (Corinna Pumm) tells her that the sugar is gone, she replies: “It’s not healthy anyway .”
Anyone who likes it witty and macabre will quickly become friends with the seventh Styrian thriller. “Steirerstern” plays against the background of the music industry. Worlds collide in the rural recording studio Soundjack. The folk music trio Jana & die Lausbuam records here, the free studio time is used by the indie pop band Talking Hearts. A women’s quartet until Tatnacht. Now the singer and guitarist Alex Dorner (Anna Friedberg) has passed away. Carbon monoxide poisoning, which almost passed for an accident in view of the apparently negligently operated coal stove. But forensic technician Bernd Kofler (Christoph Kohlbacher) from LKA Graz is too clever for the perpetrator. You quickly discover that the exhaust duct has become clogged.
Saturday, September 24th, 2022, 8:15 p.m., The First
Bergmann and Sulmtaler don’t have to look long for suspects. Jana Skoff (Emily Cox), singer and figurehead of the Lausbuam, had fallen in love with Alex Dorner and was about to change her musical style as well. For everyone who earns from Jana & the Lausbuam – the musicians, the producer, organizers, Jana’s parents – a disaster. Jana is married to Lausbuam Hubert Skoff (Stefan Gorski), accordionist Dominik Wachter (Daniel Langbein) is her brother. Jack Riedl (Sascha Geršak), studio owner and manager of the folk musicians, needs money and has a criminal past, the sound engineer deals.
In the ARD thriller there are smiles at the touch of a button
The Murnbergers, Wolfgang wrote the screenplay with his wife Maria, do not succumb to the temptation to caricature the folk music milieu. They show the constraints and mechanisms of the industry on a small scale, focused on the environment of the recording studio. Their unmasking happens casually, for example when Jana Skoff is shown with an uneasy expression during the video shoot, but she immediately switches on her profile smile as soon as the playback starts. In Emily Cox’s interpretation, Skoff becomes a complex, lively character.
Jana’s brother Dominik turns out to be a tragic figure. As a child he had to practice the accordion to the rhythm of the chugging tractor. The pure torture that spoiled his enjoyment of music. But he was forced into the music business by his authoritarian father.
Unlike in so many TV films, the music fits the milieu exactly, dialogues are dry, the nature of the characters is well observed. Only Fredi (Michael Fuith), Jana’s most passionate fan, comes across as a sweating and eye-rolling oddball, badly exaggerated.
It’s all in the mix
Original staging ideas set this ARD crime thriller apart from simpler regional crime thrillers. When the remaining Talking Hearts listen to their recordings in the studio, the female band can be seen in the flashback with dead Alex. As soon as the sound engineer mixes in the second voice sung by Jana Skoff, there is also a visual crossfade and Jana is also at the microphone. The editor was Julia Drack.
Alex Dorner, who appears in the beginning and in some flashbacks, is played by Anna Friedberg, also a real-life musician and a lot more successful than her alter ego in the film. As in their compositions, the music of the fictional Talking Hearts echoes the psychedelic and cosmic style of the sixties. The film music is by Roman Kariolou. (Harold Keller)