France (Viard), a hard-working mother of three finds herself suddenly unemployed after her factory’s closure in Dunkirk. Her only hope is to relocate to Paris, where opportunities, though scarce, do still exist. When, after a few weeks of training, she finds employment with the charming yet merciless businessman Steve (Lellouche), a romance seems almost inevitable.
Although the two do embark on a relationship in which France’s kind and maternal nature is consistently played off Steve’s dangerously seductive charm, the film’s conclusion comes as quite a surprise. Its curious ambiguity, which fails to confirm the future of either character, is at once somewhat disheartening and muddled. One thing is clear: neither will get everything they want and neither will end up with nothing.
Both characters have suffered traumas of sorts, and both have experienced happiness. If you can find solace in this, particularly against the backdrop of the global financial crisis, then Klapisch’s goal has been fulfilled.
We are gently pushed to acknowledge that even in times of adversity and misfortune, something (though we are not quite sure what) can be gained. This central theme grows in poignancy given Klapisch’s decision to cast recently unemployed Dunkirkian workers as extras – the message hits home a little bit harder when you know that their expressions of anxiety and frustration are drawn from their actual lives.
See our interview with director Cédric Klapisch here.
Ma part du gâteau (Mein Stück vom Kuchen) | D: Cédric Klapisch (France 2011) with Gilles Lellouche, Karin Viard. Opens Sep 15