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Movie Review: 'A Five Star Life'

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five star life

A FIVE STAR LIFE
Directed by Maria Sole Tognazzi. Stars Stefano Accorsi, Henry Arnold, Eirik Bar. 85 minutes.  Not rated.

--By JEANNETTE CATSOULIS, New York Times

"A Five Star Life” might touch down in some of the world’s most glamorous cities, but neither the film nor its haughty heroine, Irene (Margherita Buy), convinces us that a journey has been taken. Narratively and emotionally, this weirdly becalmed trifle by Maria Sole Tognazzi ends up almost exactly where it started.

Fortyish, single and child-free, Irene jets around the globe, ensuring that five-star hotels deserve to retain their ratings. Instead of skiing in Switzerland or shopping in Paris, she’s running white-gloved hands over chandeliers, sniffing sheets and timing room service. Back home in a sad-looking apartment in Rome, she eats frozen vegetables and prepares for her next trip. It’s a life of luxury and loneliness, and Irene likes it that way — until her twin support systems, a harried sister (Fabrizia Sacchi) and a loyal former lover (Stefano Accorsi), turn their attentions elsewhere.

Building to an epiphany that never comes, this elegant, ultra-controlled movie wears a strange claustrophobia that belies its globe-trotting locations. Cool and distant, Irene processes random encounters — a silver fox in Morocco and a freewheeling anthropologist (Lesley Manville, here reduced to spouting feminist clichés) in Berlin — with habitual sang-froid. A sex scene might have warmed her up, but when that destabilizing event happens, we’re not allowed to see it: All we see is a professional tourist who critiques her surroundings without ever examining herself.

Last modified: August 28, 2014
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