Most of “My Piece of the Pie” functions as an odd-couple story with a timely edge on class structure and the status of the world’s economy. These initial sections of the film are routine and structurally and thematically predictable, but at least they hold their own with some decent performances and a few well-placed moments of levity. But then we’re smacked upside the head with a final act that’s unpleasant, grossly implausible, and painfully misguided in its efforts to make a statement. It starts with that most reliable of plot devices, a surprise twist, and finishes ambiguously, satisfying writer/director Cédric Klapisch’s desire to symbolically reveal the state of the world we live in. I’m not here to say that he isn’t making a valid point. He is, however, going about it the wrong way.
It begins in the French seaside village of Dunkirk, where, thanks to outsourcing, a factory has just been shut down. For the aptly named France (Karin Viard), a blue-collar worker, the news comes as a devastating shock, and she’s introduced lying in a hospital bed after a failed suicide attempt. She’s a single mom with three children, and she’s now faced with the task of finding a new job. She decides to travel to Paris, where she trains to become a housekeeper. Getting her into the program requires some fudging of the truth, as it’s specifically designed for immigrant women; she gets through with a Russian accent and a booming personality. She’s then assigned to the luxurious apartment of a wealthy power broker named Steve (Gilles Lellouche), who has just returned to Paris after living in London for ten years.
Steve is handsome, but he’s also cocky, and he doesn’t know the first thing about relating to women. This is evidenced by an unnecessary scene in which he tries to woo a French model by taking her on a trip to Venice, where he lavishes her with expensive gifts. He is, of course, only interested in sex, and he takes great offense when the young woman announces that she never makes love on the first date. She is but one of several women in his life. It seems the only thing Steve does know how to do is make money. France notices this, and after a very short period of time, she feels bold enough to dispense her wisdom about women. The surprising thing is that he seems willing to listen – and this is after introducing himself to her as the workaholic hardass.