A Five Star Life

The opening credits of A Five Star Life let us know it was made “with the support of the Leading Hotels of the World.” That’s actually the name of a hospitality conglomerate, whose luxury properties get some good publicity here — even though the movie’s protagonist (Margherita Buy) is a hotel critic. As a “surprise guest,” she shows up to nitpick the particulars of poshness, toting a scoresheet which includes such queries as: “Did the hotel personnel attend to your needs, without being overbearing but indulging your every wish?” And for the most part, the answer is yes. Every property she visits is fancy and lovely, a tastefully tension-free zone. The problem is that movies generally need tension. Some conflicts do eventually percolate with her ex (Stefano Accorsi), and with her sister (Fabrizia Sacchi), but the main idea is our protagonist’s loneliness and rueful awareness of having one of those jobs that no one wants to hear you complain about. She’s good at it, she says, “because I don’t have a life.” Later, a spunky feminist intellectual (Lesley Manville) befriends her for just long enough to remind her that “luxury is a form of deceit.” Filmmaker Maria Sole Tognazzi glides through these proceedings with sensitivity and an eye for elegance. But her film seems ultimately more rewarding to its benefactors than to viewers, even those select few whom it inspires to book rooms at Leading Hotels of the World.