Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
A Five Star Life: Luxury for One
Lorenzi is used to ordering soup for one—and she expects it served at a very
specific temperature. It is not that she is too high maintenance to even find a
dinner partner. It is her job. Lorenzi is the mystery guest five star hotels
dread. It is not the worst lot in life to draw, but it often a solitary one,
leading to a mild mid-life crisis in Maria Sole Tognazzi’s elegant dramedic
bauble, A Five Star Life (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
largely lives out of her suitcase, putting five star hotels through a rigorous
secret inspection process. When she returns home, she catches up with her
sister Silvia and beloved nieces as best she can. She also tries to touch base
with Andrea, her former lover who is now her platonic (and only) friend. Like
Lorenzi, he also has a hip job, but at least managing an organic food coop
keeps him down with the people—the Volvo-driving people. That is how he met Fabiana,
a one-night stand turned pregnant girlfriend. He might just be ready to commit
to marriage and fatherhood, causing Lorenzi to re-examine her own life.
not, Five Star is far too smart for
angst-ridden soul-searching. Despite all her misgivings, Lorenzi still enjoys
her job. It also often serves as a convenient escape hatch whenever things
start to get too real with Silvia and Andrea. Yet, all the lavish service makes
it difficult to forge human connections. Indeed, Tognazzi’s screenplay,
co-written by Ivan Cotroneo and Francesca Marciano, presents a social critique
of the opulent lifestyle rather than a political-ideological indictment (at
least that is how it plays on screen, regardless of their intent).
part of the inescapably appeal of Five
Star are the highly cinematic resorts Lorenzi inspects in exotic locales
such as Marrakesh and Tuscany. There is no question there is a fair amount of
luxury porn going on here. Nevertheless, it presents a unique take on a
professional woman, wrestling with her life choices.
the focus on Lorenzi, the film largely rests on the shoulders of Margherita Buy,
who won Italy’s equivalent of the Oscars for her lead performance. Smart,
sophisticated, and reserved, she comes across like an Italian Cécile de France,
which is not a bad thing. She certainly has the right look and mature substance
to be a credible connoisseur of the best of the finest. The subtlety with which
she reveals Lorenzi’s insecurities is also quite effective.
Star is undeniably narrow in scope, but it is nimbly
sure-footed, giving viewers an intimate peak into a well structured but unusual
life. There is definitely very real drama at its core, but Tognazzi allows
viewers plenty of time to revel in the rarified surroundings, which sparkle in
cinematographer Arnaldo Catinari’s lens. It is all quite satisfying, like room
service soup served at the proper temperature. Recommended for fans of Italian
cinema and those who enjoy gawking at exclusive locales, A Five Star Life opens this Friday (7/18) in New York at the Paris
Labels: Italian Cinema, Margherita Buy