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A Five Star Life *1/2

Is it worth $10? No

Irene Lorenzi (Margherita Buy, "The Caiman" [2006]) works as an inspector or "mystery guest" who secretly, meticulously checks five-star hotels to ensure they continue to be worthy of the highest rating. She enjoys her work, but find it a little lonely.

"A Five Star Life" offers plenty of picturesque scenery through its fine photography and variety of worldwide destinations. Especially early on, sensitive editing brings supporting characters into Irene's life with clarity. There's a feeling of relief that the whole movie isn't going to be about how she uses her white gloves to check for dust settled above picture frames. But the feeling is short-lived.

Easily two thirds of the film consist of demonstrations of the fastidiousness of Irene and/or her occupation. There are many segments like this when it becomes difficult to sympathize with the woman. She clearly crosses the line, though, when she rudely ignores a bellman's offer of assistance. Regardless of the extenuating circumstances, the character is supposed to be a seasoned professional who would know better.

The first problem for discerning moviegoers here pops up in the main title card: This film is called "Viaggio sola" (I travel alone) in its original Italian. Some measure of license for English-language marketing purposes can be excused, but "A Five Star Life!?" That's a brazen, if not insulting, stretch from the original.

For nearly its entirety, "A Five Star Life" is numbingly pleasant. Scenarios perhaps meant to be cute here are only boring. So cautious is it about everything, and so conscious of its target demographic, that it says and does almost nothing. At times, you marvel at its blandness.

A genuinely happy thought is that clarinetists are in such high demand these days, as there seems an unending stream of below-average independent comedies requiring their services in bulk.

In the third act, a few segments of real human interaction save the movie from being a total loss. But a modicum of "Eat Pray Love"-lite can't free the film from its hotel brochure tendencies.

The opening credits acknowledge The Leading Hotels of the World, a hotel industry association that cooperated in the production, and you wonder how beholden to this group the writers and director were. It certainly appears that a natural development in the character arc was avoided lest it reflect poorly on a group that describes itself on its website as "the largest luxury hotel collection" in the world.

"A Five Star Life" feels as though, if you're not an upper-middle-class woman in her forties, it wants nothing to do with you. If you happen to be just that, then it not only caters to you, it panders to you and patronizes you. It says, "We know you are single, because you don't brush your hair." There's something cynical, even mean-spirited, about copycat movies that aspire only to provide moderate amusement for people who are, ostensibly, just like the characters on screen.

Andres Solar reviews new fare with an emphasis on art house and indie for HOH. He would love to see Burt Reynolds in another Paul Thomas Anderson movie but understands that it probably “Ain’t gonna happen.”

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