Perhaps putting five stars in your film’s title is a sign of a hopeful attitude about how it will be received, but if so writer-director Maria Sole Tognazzi is sure to be disappointed. “A Five Star Life” is essentially a character study that lacks much character itself.

The central figure is Irene (Margherita Buy), an attractive, elegant middle-aged lady who has what appears to be an enviable job. She works for a hotel-rating business, going to high-end establishments as a guest to assess their quality and decide, on the basis of a close inspection of the accommodations and service, whether they should continue to be awarded five-star status. At the conclusion of each stay, she not only prepares a report for her employer but delivers a précis of it to the hotel manager, who might be distressed if her ever-observant eye has detected some fatal flaw.

The sequences of Irene at the posh places she visits in various European locales offer views of handsome suites, first-class spas, fine restaurants and gorgeous landscapes, but much of her work is distinctly unglamorous, involving close scrutiny of sheets and carpets, as well as frequent travel that can be exhausting. Still it seems to suit her personality, which craves order, method and directness. Those traits are observable in her personal life. She has a close friendship with an old boyfriend named Andrea (Stefano Accorsi), a specialist grocer, but it’s strictly platonic. And though she dines and shops with her very different sister, a ditzy, forgetful housewife named Silvia (Fabrizia Sacchi), her musician husband and their two young daughters, her attitude toward them is rather cool, except when she takes the girls out on their own—and even then, as we see when they accompany her on one of her trips, she can lose patience with them when they misbehave.

It’s clear that Irene lives quite an emotionally solitary life—a point that’s made quite directly in the original Italian title, “Viaggio sola,” but obscured in the English one. And what Tognazzi aims to show is how she comes to feel that isolation more acutely. The catalyst is a one-night stand that Andrea has with a customer (Alessia Barela), which leaves the woman pregnant and him looking forward to raising a child. The prospect makes Irene uneasy because she fears that the arrival of the child will undermine the comfortable relationship she’s had with her old boyfriend for years. Another circumstance that brings home how alone she actually is occurs when Irene meets Kate Sherman (Lesley Manville), a British author, on one of her trips. Irene is taken with Kate’s theories about female independence, but their chance encounter will in the end challenge those ideas, which Irene shares. By the close of “A Five Star Life” Irene is left ready for a change, but uncertain about what it should be.

There are many strengths here. One is Buy’s performance, which captures Irene’s chilly equipoise and almost unflappable sense of style. (There’s also an element of noblesse oblige to her personality, most notably in her reaction to a hotel’s condescending treatment of a honeymooning couple unaccustomed to such luxurious surroundings.) Another is the picture’s classy look, attributable not merely to the locations but to Roberto De Angelis’ production design, Antonella Cannarozzi’s costumes, and Arnaldo Catinari’s cinematography. You can also appreciate Tognazzi’s refusal to jazz up her film with farce and false energy. As edited by Walter Fasano, it moves at a relaxed pace, accentuated by Buy’s periodic voiceover as Irene explains, as she proceeds through hotel hallways, the various elements she scores in assessing an establishment’s final rating.

In the end, however, despite such virtues “A Five Star Life” comes across as a two-and-a-half star movie, elegant but ultimately slight.