By naming the single-mom lead character in My Piece of The Pie "France," writer/director Cédric Klapisch makes eminently manifest right at the outset that he is hoisting the flag of parable, rendering irrelevant any concerns a viewer might have about the plausibility of the scenario: laid-off factory worker decides (as her bills pile up, post-suicide attempt) to leave the picket lines and do domestic labor in Paris, only to find herself employed -- and in bed -- with Steve (Gilles Lelouch, who almost rivals Javier Bardem, in the actor cabezón category) the number-crunching, multi-screen-watching, short-selling, yuppie-scum titan of virtual finance responsible for the dismantling and selling off of the company which employed her.
Despite this potential fairy tale set-up (à la Working Girl, Wall Street, Pretty Woman) which might have some of us thinking that he and his young son and she and her three daughters might form some sort of Brady Bunch, for Klapisch, The 1% + The 99% = 100% fantasy, and so My Piece of The Pie goes a bit Fatal Attraction -- well, sort of, but I will leave that bit of nervousness for you to discover, along with the many humorous moments which make this very serious-minded film eminently, well, watchable.
And despite our affinity for la sympatica France, (played heroically by Karin Vilard, whose innate persona seems equally suitable to cinema and television) we remain aware that she chose to forsake solidarity for survival, and when she gets played for a fool by Steve (who in fact slept with her to win a bet with an office mate) it is in keeping with the moral laws of Klapisch's universe, the planes of which bend just enough to create an impossible story, yes, but beautifully so, in the service of putting a face-to-face confrontation on the grim truths about what things and people are really worth, and delivering a most improbable result: a shockingly engaging indictment of life as we're coming to know it. My Piece of The Pie should rightly enjoy a very wide audience, and is certainly a great foreign film for those who want to see how some of the 99% in Europe live, but don't usually like foreign films. If only laws of cause and effect were this simple, in real-life.
Earnest Warning: like most trailers, this may spoil your experience of the film
Kudos to the 2011 TriBeCa Film Festival for debuting this, and to the Film Society of Lincoln Center for screening it.
Also recommended: Le Havre, Service Entrance
My Piece of The Pie (Ma Part Du Gateau)
Opens Friday at Lincoln Center