Title: My Piece of the Pie
Director: Cedric Klapisch
Starring: Karin Viard and Gilles Lellouche
Shooting a film about the problems currently plaguing the world isn’t always an easy process, as people have conflicting ideas on how to solve them. The process is even more difficult when marketing the movie to a foreign country. But in his new comedy-drama ‘My Piece of the Pie,’ French screenwriter-director Cedric Klapisch effortlessly showcased the differing difficulties the working and high-collar classes face in today’s society.
‘My Piece of the Pie’ follows single mother France (played by Karin Viard), a blue-collar worker who was just laid off from the factory she’s had since she was a teenager. Depressed over having to support three daughters and having no job prospects, she tries to commit suicide by taking pills. Her luck seems to change when she enrolls in a housekeeper training program, and is hired for a position cleaning the Paris apartment of arrogant power broker Steve (portrayed by Gilles Lellouche). France’s luck also seemingly improves when Steve pays her more to watch his young son for a few weeks when his mother is out of town. But she comes to realize that being part of the millionaire lifestyle isn’t as luxurious as she believes, as Steve continuously dismisses her and exhibits a brash demeanor towards her.
Viard, who previously worked with Klapisch on such films as ‘Riens Du Tout’ and ‘Paris,’ was believably cast as the working class France. Having met with residents from Dunkirk, where France lives with her children, the actress came to understand her character’s fighting spirit to overcome her economic hardship. While France initially feels sorry for herself and the hard circumstances she’s facing, she never gives up hope that she can improve herself and help her children. Vivard’s realistic portrayal of France allows the character to elicit empathy throughout the course of the movie, as she has reached a difficult crossroads in her life.
However, there are many instances throughout ‘My Piece of the Pie’ where France makes questionable decisions, particularly as the film’s protagonist. While she naively makes choices that she feels will improve her life and the lives of those around her, there are many moments where she’s not making the decisions she should. For example, audiences will feel France’s pain when she takes the pills, as she feels there’s no possible way of improving her work situation. However, if she succeeded in ending her life, her daughters would be left without anyone to take care of them.
Viard’s ease at working with Lellouche is clearly evident throughout the course of ‘My Piece of the Pie.’ While Steve is self-centered and doesn’t take anyone else’s feelings into consideration, the actress has described her co-star as being humorous, light-hearted and has a sense of humanity. Like Viard, Lellouche convincingly understood the motives pushing his character; Steve lives in a virtual, dehumanized world so that he can succeed in his financial career.
Klapisch showcased the actors’ comfort at working together by allowing France to change Steve, even if it’s only for a brief period of time. While Steve is always driven by his career and ambition to work his way the financial ladder, France makes him realize that he needs to connect with his son, and act like a true father to him. The writer-director rightfully cast Lellouche, because he can convincingly draw on his characters’ negative personality traits, and can push the boundaries of being nasty to even those closest to him.
Klapisch also presented Steve’s world without all of the classic cliches. While Steve is interested in showing off his wealth, he surprisingly allows France to help show him how to love and how to be a father. Despite the aloof, arrogant behavior he exhibits to France, she ultimately shows him how to be more respectful and sensitive towards other people.
‘My Piece of the Pie’ intriguingly showed how people from different lifestyles can change each other’s views and personalities. While ultimately France and Steve remain true to their real selves throughout the course of the film, the struggling middle-class single mother showed the conceited businessman how to care for other people. In return, he shows her how to move up in society, and fight to financially succeed. Viard and Lellouche’s casting and ease of working together helped reinforce that not everyone is who they initially seem to be.
Written by: Karen Benardello