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
A Five Star Life's original Italian title is Viaggio Sola, which loosely translates to "Traveling Alone". That may have been the better English title for A Five Star Life, not only because the heroine travels for 80% of the film but because it would better serve the emotion the film is trying to convey, as some of that emotion seemed to be lost in translation.
Irene (Marguerita Buy) is a beautiful woman in her 40s who is a five star hotel secret guest. So she has the best job in the world as she checks into the fanciest hotels all over Europe and meticulously grades everything she sees and experiences. It's a glamorous yet solitary life, and Irene lives it never bothered by the lack of personal relationships one would usually have at her age. Those closest to her include her ex- fiancé Andrea and her sister Silvia, a busy mother of two young girls. When Andrea (Stefano Accorsi) learns he is going to be a father from a one night stand, Irene starts to reevaluate her lonely luxurious life. Irene's sister Silvia is a busy musician, wife and mother of two. She is presented to us as the antithesis of Irene, almost what women are supposed to become if they choose the "normal" path of husband and kids. The scenes between Silvia and Irene are the most interesting in the film. Their conversations display a jealousy from both sides yet each hold a candle of superiority over the other, showing that no path is the true path to happiness.
Director Maria Sole Tognazzi paints a beautiful and stark painting of Irene's life on the go. Much like George Clooney in Up in The Air, Irene lives out of her suitcase in the most beautiful rooms in the most stunning places in the world. Back home in Italy you are shown the complete opposite- Irene's empty apartment is a physical representation of her personal life. The camera work in the many places Irene visits is spectacular. From a belly dancer in Morocco to a gorgeous mountain range in Sweden, Tognazzi has an eye for atmosphere and it serves her well in this film. The camera also loves Marguerita Buy. She has the presence of a younger actress with her elegant but casual wardrobe and her perfectly tousled curly blonde hair. Yet she wears her age in such a classic and natural way- you would not want her any other way.
The idea in A Five Star Life is that Irene is lonely and she is doubting her life choice to be single and childless. There is no great urgency from her, especially when she's having a leisurely cocktail in Paris, Stockholm, or Berlin. These places take her away from what is really bothering her. She is most lonely and desperate when she's surrounded by her loved ones. They represent what she has left behind and what she can not get back. More scenes with them would have served the narrative better and given the audience more of an emotional tie to her plight. A Five Star Life is a light and delightful travel movie, but for the emotional moral to really hit home it could have used a little less travel.
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