By Don Simpson | December 6, 2011
Director: Cédric Klapisch
Writer: Cédric Klapisch
Starring: Karin Viard, Gilles Lellouche, Lunis Sakji, Audrey Lamy, Jean-Pierre Martins, Raphaële Godin, Marine Vacth, Flavie Bataille
My Piece of the Pie begins in Dunkirk with a birthday cake; but amidst the celebration, France (Karin Viard) attempts suicide. The quite purposefully named France is a single mother of three who is suffering from depression after the unexpected closure of the factory she had worked at for two decades.
Meanwhile in London, we learn that an evil power broker named Steve (Gilles Lellouche) recently closed a deal that prompted the shuttering of France’s employer. As a bonus, Steve accepts a job transfer that delivers him to Paris.
Meanwhile in Dunkirk, France — who is still recovering from her suicide attempt — cannot find another job; that is until she abandons her fellow factory workers and enters a housekeeper training program in Paris. The training program is designed for immigrants, so France must pretend that she is a foreigner so the other students do not get suspicious of National favoritism. (This could easily be interpreted as an anti-immigrant stance on behalf of writer-director Cédric Klapisch, as he “proves” to us that French Nationals actually want and deserve the lower class jobs that immigrants are stealing.)
Fate then rears its ugly hand and France is hired as Steve’s housekeeper. France — our working-class heroine — is blinded by her income, especially as her salary multiplies upon becoming the nanny for Steve’s son (Lunis Sakji). France quickly learns that the millionaire lifestyle, however subservient her role may be, is not all that bad. Steve’s life, on the other hand, is devoted to the endless pursuit of profit at the expense of less privileged people, as My Piece of the Pie unspools into a cock-eyed message about how seemingly harmless business decisions have broader consequences than anyone could ever imagine. (Themes of financial accountability in this dog-eat-dog Capitalist world come up again and again and again.)
And though she constantly ridicules Steve for not spending enough quality time with his son, France has all but abandoned her daughters in Dunkirk at the home of her sister (Audrey Lamy) in favor of spending more time with Steve’s son and thus making a lot more money. Nonetheless, we are supposed to believe that France is a decent, hard working woman who just so happens to have hit a lucky-yet-reckless streak. When France eventually sacrifices herself for her comrades at the factory back in Dunkirk, it is too little too late as far as I am concerned.