Movie Review: “A Five Star Life” Radiates Charm And Enthusiasm

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Review by James McDonald

Forty-something Irene has a dream job that makes her life easy: she is a luxury hotel inspector and her work gets carried out in wonderful, ever-renewed settings, from Paris to Gstaad to Berlin to Morocco to China… But does a dream job necessarily mean a dream life?

In “A Five Star Life”, Irene (Margherita Buy) works as a luxury hotel inspector, traveling to 5-star hotels throughout Europe and the Far East, beautiful locations such as Paris, Berlin, Morocco, China and beyond. Her job is pretty straightforward: scrutinize the service, cleanliness, and atmosphere of each hotel and its employees. Are the tables and picture frames that hang in the rooms covered in dust? Is the bathtub is pristine condition? Are the towels fluffy enough and when you order room service how long does it take from the time you hang up the phone until your meal is received? This, it appears, is her life.

When two of Irene’s co-workers hand in their notice, she is informed that she is the only female hotel inspector left in the company so her workload is doubled but she is okay with that. With no significant other or kids waiting at home, she jets off at a moment’s notice to magnifiecnt faraway locations like Switzerland and Shanghai while her entire trip is paid for, from her airfare right down to her luxurious hotel accommodations, food, expenses and car rental. It seems like she has the perfect job but when she is home, she spends most of her time with her sister Silvia (Fabrizia Sacchi) and her family and her ex Andrea (Stefano Accorsi).

They have become best friends and have a much better relationship now than when they were a couple but when he informs her that his girlfriend is pregnant, initially, she is elated for him but as time goes on, she realizes that he is really the only man in her life and she feels that when the baby is born, it will take him away from her. As she approaches fifty, she begins to question her life. While she enjoys traveling, she has nobody to share it with and as she racks up thousands of free miles on her airline account, she can’t use them to go on vacation as she has no one in her life. Her sister is busy with her family and her ex is expecting a baby and she has no close friends as her job takes up all of her time.

What I loved about this movie was that while it does, most certainly, ask important questions about each of our lives, the answers are different from every perspective. Irene begins to have doubts as to whether or not she can continue doing her job because, undoubtedly, it does not allow her the time nor the space to have a personal life or a meaningful relationship. Her sister is content with her family life and Andrea is excited that he is going to be a father but those lifestyles are not necessarily for everyone, least of all Irene. When it comes right down to it, the life she chooses, is the one she knows and loves best and she cannot imagine her life any other way.

“A Five Star Life” is a movie filled with light-heartedness and exuberance and while the movie does cover some serious topics, the majority of the film is light and breezy and shows you just how much Irene loves her job, along with the fringe benefits and perks that most of us could only dream of. Instead of quitting her job and settling down, like society expects of her, she realizes that this is the life she wants to live and continues to do so. Margherita Buy is sensational and flourishes with an unforeseen vivacity while the movie is funny, touching, and at times, melancholic but ultimately, it is a pure delight. Highly recommended.

In select theaters now including the Angelika Film Center in Dallas

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James McDonald
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