As stilted as its protagonist’s suffocatingly organized existence, A Five Star Life follows Irene (Margherita Buy) as she travels from one beautiful European resort to another in order to inspect, secretly, the quality of their accommodations.
A thorough critic, Irene is nonetheless oblivious to her own loneliness, too busy dishing out tough grades to resorts, as well as dealing with a sister (Fabrizia Sacchi) who constantly berates her for not having a family, and a former lover (Stefano Accorsi) whom Irene fears may stop being her bestie because of the baby he’s having with another woman (Fausto Maria Sciarappa).
From Italy to France to Morocco to Germany, director Maria Sole Tognazzi shoots her material with stately grace but a distinct lack of energy, which is also true of Buy’s composed but inert lead performance. Subplots involving Irene’s relationship with her nieces and her sister’s sexual issues do little more than pad the film out to feature length.
And a late encounter between Irene and another hotel guest proves to be a laughably contrived means of bestowing Irene with a carpe diem, life’s-best-when-messy epiphany. Nice to look at but tedious to endure, A Five Star Life boasts a muted classiness that doesn’t mitigate its phoniness.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 16, 2014