Forty-something Irene had a dream job that made her life easy: she was indeed a luxury hotel inspector and her work got carried out in a wonderful ever-renewed setting, from Paris to Gstaad...
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Forty-something Irene had a dream job that made her life easy: she was indeed a luxury hotel inspector and her work got carried out in a wonderful ever-renewed setting, from Paris to Gstaad to Berlin to Morocco to China... But does a dream job necessarily mean a dream life? Irene tried not to ask herself the question too openly. Yes she was single but she had manged to remain on good terms with Andrea, her former life companion. For sure she was childless but she occasionally took care of her two little nieces. And it was such fun to play the mystery guest in those magnificent hotels... Things could have gone on that way hadn't one day Irene met Kate Sherman... Written by
Themes of isolation and comfort in the 5-star hotel world
Irene is in her 40's, single, and has a job that sounds like a luxury: reviewing 5 star hotels in gorgeous locations. But mind you, her job isn't just basking in all the amenities that a hotel provides, her job requires a meticulous attention to every possible detail, and all kinds of factors, from the amount of dust on the lamps to the timeliness of the staff, is thoroughly considered. Since her job requires her to be away from home so much, she is single and has estranged relationships with her family and friends. If the premise reminds you of Jason Reitman's Up in the Air, you're on the right track.
The premise of the film allows us as an audience to venture to some magnificent locations, and it's immediately recognizable how well the film utilizes every location it visits. Paris, Berlin, The Alps, Marrakesh, and a few hotels in Italy all get the deluxe treatment and are showcased beautifully here. But where it would be easy to venture into imagery reminiscent of the travel channel, this film instead focuses on the sense of isolation that each hotel brings. Sure, the views are all exquisite, but the film wonderfully captures the hollow reality that these deluxe locations encapsulate. Thematically, the film encapsulates this sense of isolated beauty that Irene embodies. As fun as it is to gasp at the luxury, the purpose is not to envy Irene by the end of the film but to simply understand the world that she inhabits.
Despite being a movie about luxury, the biggest strength of the film ends up being its simplicity. There is no grand revelation or massive plot twist here, but we do feel the many themes that are shared with us. One of these is the concept of artificial comfort. Is having someone wait on you nonstop really a key to happiness? How arbitrary is our modern day measurement of luxury and quality? While the themes are played out visually in the various locations, we see them play out emotionally in Irene's interactions when she is back at home. Her best friend and former lover is about to be a father because the mother believes it will make her happy, a tangible showing of how happiness has become a material good. Her relationship with her sister, brother-in-law and nieces fluctuates but is her only hope for having family in her life. From the concept, it would appear that the heart of the film comes from her travels, but the film very uniquely also covers the many times that she comes home and the impact she has on those who don't share her lifestyle.
A Five Star Life is a short, simple film but is fully engaging because of how well its themes are realized, both visually and emotionally. It may not have the same level of prowess that Up in the Air has, but for a smaller film, it certainly engages for the entire runtime.
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