“A Five Star Life” is an agreeable enough film about a hotel critic who is so caught up in her work that her time away from the job warrants only a one- to two-star ranking.
Irene (nicely played by Margherita Buy) is as meticulous as they come, penalizing luxurious hotels if the soup is two degrees too cold (she brings along a thermometer), or if the concierge doesn’t smile at just the right time. These little moments, when Irene is incognito, are the best thing about the movie.
The trouble is, this Italian romantic dramedy needs a little room service, because the romance, comedy and drama are sometimes in short supply. Irene is an interesting character, and the concept of her job offers a multitude of storytelling possibilities, but the script strands her — she’s packed, but there’s nowhere for her to go.
Things threaten to get interesting at times, such as when Irene meets a potential romantic interest, or when her nieces join her at a hotel, but these episodes fizzle out. The best encounter occurs in Berlin, when Irene meets a talk show guest, but even that situation is jettisoned in a pat way.
All in all, though, “A Five Star Life” (which was a hit in Italy) remains a hard film to dislike, and many will savor the fabulous locations where Irene arrives as a “mystery guest.”
Much of the individual scene work is good, and director Maria Sole Tognazzi has to be commended for trying to provide Irene with a journey on a less-traveled road. In this case, though, that road has a few detours too many.
(c)2014 the San Francisco Chronicle. Distributed by MCT Information Services.