In Italian, A Five Star Life is called Viaggio Sola, meaning I Travel Alone. Perhaps that was too real of a translation to be palatable to American audiences, hence the more politically correct English title. After all, being discriminatory against middle-aged single women is decidedly twentieth century. Or is it?
Irene Lorenzi (Margherita Buy) is a mid-forties hotel inspector/"mystery guest" who makes her living by staying in luxury hotels around the world and rating the number of stars they have critically based on the minutiae, right down to how long it takes room service to deliver food. A five-star experience denotes the height of luxury, unlike any other experience a guest has ever had. Written and directed by Maria Sole Tognazzi, best known for the 2010 documentary, Ritratto di Mio Padre, the nature of the story is decidedly Italian in that Irene, in spite of the fantastic nature of her job, is looked down upon--particularly by her married sister, Silvia (Fabrizia Sacchi)--for choosing a life free of conventional responsibility.
Although this sort of judgment exists in American culture as well, no one likes to keep it old school more than the Southern Italians. Even Irene's ex-boyfriend/best friend, Andrea (Stefano Accorsi), who initially comes off as a man unconcerned with the expected conventions of life, succumbs to fatherhood after getting one of his dalliances pregnant. Fearful that she'll lose the one other person she knew of who was living for himself, Irene is thrown further into an emotional free fall when a seemingly invincible powerhouse of a single woman she meets at the bar of the hotel she's staying at in Berlin passes away in the middle of the night.
This prompts her to call Silvia, who she's just gotten into a fight with after telling her that a sexy dress she tried on didn't look good on her, and tell her to pick her up at the airport when she returns. Silvia refuses, still offended that Irene sees her as nothing more than a wife and mother, some sort of sexless slave to her domesticity. Eventually, the two reconcile after Irene mails her the dress as a peace offering, though, by this time, she's already on the way to her next destination.
What A Five Star Life seeks to tell us--particularly those of us who are women--is that maybe "having it all" is overrated. As overrated as a luxury hotel. Maybe it's okay to focus on finely honing one element of our lives instead of trying to embody all the roles that are expected of us. In the end, we'll find, it may lead to greater happiness.