When I saw "All About My Mother" I couldn't get the leading actress out of my mind. She made such an impact on me with her very real and touching performance as the mother who couldn't get past her loss. It was meant to be that way, real, heart wrenching. In "A Five Star Life", Margherita Buy shines with her portrayal of the professional but lonely hotel inspector, Irene. She lives what others would consider a heavenly life, eating, relaxing, and sleeping in the best resorts in the world, and having an incredible amount of power, too.
We accompany Irene as she shows us how it works. She travels to Berlin, Paris, Switzerland, and a few five star resorts. She watches the moves of the hotels' personnel, armed with cameras, voice recorders, timers, and her watchful eyes miss nothing. At times she appears full in control, but she also lets her personal side comes through, showing sympathy for others less fortunate, expressing a bit of jealousy while watching others have what she is missing.
The film cuts in and out of her trips by showing what happens to her when she returns to her home, and there is much emptiness in her personal life. She has very good friends, but she yearns for more. She visits her sister and spends time with her nieces, enjoying every moment and knowing she has to let them go because they're not her own children. Still, she says she has no regrets and tries to continue.
Something happens in Berlin that makes her realize she might be missing something, and it's hard to watch because it all hangs on the realization that time is valuable and life is precious. Irene is now confronted with making decisions, and by the time we reach the end of the film, we still don't know what she has chosen. It is an open ending, yet there is hope because it shows the possibilities, and the camera shows she might have moved beyond the five star enclosures.
What is so beautiful about the film is that it is very honest and shows the simple emotions in everyone's daily life: daughters miss their mothers, people make mistakes, and there are insecurities all over the place. In fact, she might really not travel alone because her life follows her, and no one can leave everything behind. Life is what you make of it, and prisons come in many shapes.
Overall, the movie works because of this actress' superb performance. She expresses every single emotion that is required of her. She is happy and frustrated with her family and work. She longs for love and it's sad to see that is difficult. She glows when there is the possibility of love and friendship, and it's shattering to see the low points of her life. Buy is an amazing actress.
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