Small Change


1h 45m 1976

Brief Synopsis

Two children from different backgrounds share the pain and humor of growing up.

Film Details

Also Known As
Argent de poche, L', Pocket Money, Spending Money
MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Fantasy
Foreign
Release Date
1976
Distribution Company
FILM DESK/UNITED ARTISTS FILMS
Location
France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1

Synopsis

Various experiences of childhood are seen in several sequences that take place in the small town of Thiers, France. Vignettes include a boy's awakening interest in girls, couples double-dating at the movies, brothers giving their friend a haircut, a boy dealing with an abusive home life, a baby and a cat sitting by an open window, a child telling a dirty joke, and a boy who develops a crush on his friend's mother.

Film Details

Also Known As
Argent de poche, L', Pocket Money, Spending Money
MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Fantasy
Foreign
Release Date
1976
Distribution Company
FILM DESK/UNITED ARTISTS FILMS
Location
France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1

Articles

Small Change (L'argent de poche)


After the commercial and critical disappointment of his period romance The Story of Adele H (1975), Francois Truffaut turned his attention back to the kind of small, intimate film he started with, particularly those in which he closely observed childhood in all its aspects, such as Les Mistons (1957), The 400 Blows (1959), and The Wild Child (1970). But Small Change (French title: L'Argent de poche, 1976) certainly exhibits a sunnier mood than those earlier works.

Without much of a plot, Small Change nevertheless engaged audiences with its almost documentary view of children living in the small provincial city of Thiers. Their stories are episodic and glimpsed with a certain detachment, running the gamut from sad to funny. The children, ranging in age from toddler to adolescent, are seen in peril, mischief, loneliness, joy, and humiliation, and in all cases exhibit what one adult voice in the film calls "a state of grace," passing "untouched through dangers that would destroy an adult." In the process of telling these multiple stories, the film also makes some astute observations of the adults in the lives of these young people, but it's always the kids who take center stage.

The French title, L'Argent de poche, translates literally as "Pocket Money," but because there was already a 1972 Paul Newman-Lee Marvin Western by that title, Small Change was used, reportedly at the suggestion of Steven Spielberg, director of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), in which Truffaut played a major role. One of Truffaut's early working titles for the film, "Tough Skin," expresses the theme of children's resiliency as stated by the aforementioned adult character, played out most dramatically in the episode about a toddler venturing unattended onto the window ledge of an upper-floor apartment. That early title also resonates with a belief the director puts forth in another line of dialogue: "By a kind of strange balance, those who have had a difficult youth are often better armed to confront adult life than those who have been protected. It is a kind of law of compensation."

In this, as in all his films centered on children, Truffaut wanted to present them from the inside, on their own terms, and avoid what he considered idealized or melodramatic distortions of childhood he found in such movies as Jeux interdits/Forbidden Games (1952) and Chiens perdus sans collier (1955), whose poster the young boys tear up in Les Mistons. Truffaut believed the filmmaker had a greater responsibility when depicting children on screen because the public always projects a symbolic meaning on what children do in movies, as if the actions of any single child represent not only our own memories but all of childhood in general.

Although he found it often exhausting and very noisy, Truffaut said he enjoyed working with children because they change, physically and emotionally, during the shooting. "By the time the film ends, they are different," he explained to New York Times writer James F. Clarity in a 1976 interview. "Sometimes it is very difficult to direct children. You try something over and over and then have to let it go. But when it works, it's ten times better than with an adult."

The director makes a Hitchcock-like cameo in the film's early minutes as one of the parents. His 15-year-old daughter Eva appears as one of the older children. His other daughter Laura, who was about 17 at the time, plays a young mother in the picture, a character who shares the last name, Doinel, of the boy protagonist of The 400 Blows, played by Jean-Pierre Leaud in that movie and four others for Truffaut over the next 20 years.

Small Change was a box office hit, and although some critics found it too light and inconsequential, many others raved about it on an international scale. In his review in the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert concluded, "What other contemporary filmmaker is so firmly in touch with the personal rhythms of life?" The film took home two prizes at the Berlin International Film Festival and received a Golden Globe Best Foreign Film nomination.

Producer: Francois Truffaut (uncredited)
Director: Francois Truffaut
Screenplay: Francois Truffaut, Suzanne Schiffman (original scenario)
Cinematography: Pierre-William Glenn
Art Direction: Jean-Pierre Kohut-Svelko
Music: Maurice Jaubert
Film Editing: Yann Dedet
Cast: Nicole Felix (Gregory's mother), Chantal Mercier (Chantal Petit, the Schoolteacher), Jean-François Stevenin (Jean-Francois Richet, the Schoolteacher), Virginie Thevenet (Lydie Richet), Tania Torrens (Nadine Riffle, hairdresser), Rene Barnerias (Monsieur Desmouceaux, Patrick's father), Katy Carayon (Sylvie's Mother), Jean-Marie Carayon (Police inspector, Sylvie's father), Annie Chevaldonne (Nurse), Francis Devlaeminck (Monsieur Riffle, hairdresser, Laurent's father), Michel Dissart (Monsieur Lomay, constable), Michele Heyraud (Madame Deluca), Paul Heyraud (Monsieur Deluca).
C-106m. Letterboxed.

by Rob Nixon
Small Change (L'argent De Poche)

Small Change (L'argent de poche)

After the commercial and critical disappointment of his period romance The Story of Adele H (1975), Francois Truffaut turned his attention back to the kind of small, intimate film he started with, particularly those in which he closely observed childhood in all its aspects, such as Les Mistons (1957), The 400 Blows (1959), and The Wild Child (1970). But Small Change (French title: L'Argent de poche, 1976) certainly exhibits a sunnier mood than those earlier works. Without much of a plot, Small Change nevertheless engaged audiences with its almost documentary view of children living in the small provincial city of Thiers. Their stories are episodic and glimpsed with a certain detachment, running the gamut from sad to funny. The children, ranging in age from toddler to adolescent, are seen in peril, mischief, loneliness, joy, and humiliation, and in all cases exhibit what one adult voice in the film calls "a state of grace," passing "untouched through dangers that would destroy an adult." In the process of telling these multiple stories, the film also makes some astute observations of the adults in the lives of these young people, but it's always the kids who take center stage. The French title, L'Argent de poche, translates literally as "Pocket Money," but because there was already a 1972 Paul Newman-Lee Marvin Western by that title, Small Change was used, reportedly at the suggestion of Steven Spielberg, director of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), in which Truffaut played a major role. One of Truffaut's early working titles for the film, "Tough Skin," expresses the theme of children's resiliency as stated by the aforementioned adult character, played out most dramatically in the episode about a toddler venturing unattended onto the window ledge of an upper-floor apartment. That early title also resonates with a belief the director puts forth in another line of dialogue: "By a kind of strange balance, those who have had a difficult youth are often better armed to confront adult life than those who have been protected. It is a kind of law of compensation." In this, as in all his films centered on children, Truffaut wanted to present them from the inside, on their own terms, and avoid what he considered idealized or melodramatic distortions of childhood he found in such movies as Jeux interdits/Forbidden Games (1952) and Chiens perdus sans collier (1955), whose poster the young boys tear up in Les Mistons. Truffaut believed the filmmaker had a greater responsibility when depicting children on screen because the public always projects a symbolic meaning on what children do in movies, as if the actions of any single child represent not only our own memories but all of childhood in general. Although he found it often exhausting and very noisy, Truffaut said he enjoyed working with children because they change, physically and emotionally, during the shooting. "By the time the film ends, they are different," he explained to New York Times writer James F. Clarity in a 1976 interview. "Sometimes it is very difficult to direct children. You try something over and over and then have to let it go. But when it works, it's ten times better than with an adult." The director makes a Hitchcock-like cameo in the film's early minutes as one of the parents. His 15-year-old daughter Eva appears as one of the older children. His other daughter Laura, who was about 17 at the time, plays a young mother in the picture, a character who shares the last name, Doinel, of the boy protagonist of The 400 Blows, played by Jean-Pierre Leaud in that movie and four others for Truffaut over the next 20 years. Small Change was a box office hit, and although some critics found it too light and inconsequential, many others raved about it on an international scale. In his review in the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert concluded, "What other contemporary filmmaker is so firmly in touch with the personal rhythms of life?" The film took home two prizes at the Berlin International Film Festival and received a Golden Globe Best Foreign Film nomination. Producer: Francois Truffaut (uncredited) Director: Francois Truffaut Screenplay: Francois Truffaut, Suzanne Schiffman (original scenario) Cinematography: Pierre-William Glenn Art Direction: Jean-Pierre Kohut-Svelko Music: Maurice Jaubert Film Editing: Yann Dedet Cast: Nicole Felix (Gregory's mother), Chantal Mercier (Chantal Petit, the Schoolteacher), Jean-François Stevenin (Jean-Francois Richet, the Schoolteacher), Virginie Thevenet (Lydie Richet), Tania Torrens (Nadine Riffle, hairdresser), Rene Barnerias (Monsieur Desmouceaux, Patrick's father), Katy Carayon (Sylvie's Mother), Jean-Marie Carayon (Police inspector, Sylvie's father), Annie Chevaldonne (Nurse), Francis Devlaeminck (Monsieur Riffle, hairdresser, Laurent's father), Michel Dissart (Monsieur Lomay, constable), Michele Heyraud (Madame Deluca), Paul Heyraud (Monsieur Deluca). C-106m. Letterboxed. by Rob Nixon

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

The Country of France

Released in United States 1976

Released in United States 1999

Released in United States November 5, 1989

Released in United States 1976 (Shown at New York Film Festival September-October 1976.)

Released in United States 1999 (Shown in New York City (Film Forum) as part of program "Tout Truffaut" April 23 - June 24, 1999.)

Re-released in United States May 17, 2013

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1976

Re-released in United States on Video September 25, 1991

Re-released in United States May 17, 2013

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1976

Shown at New York Film Festival September-October 1976.

Shown at Alliance Francaise in New York City November 5, 1989.

Re-released in United States on Video September 25, 1991

Released in United States November 5, 1989 (Shown at Alliance Francaise in New York City November 5, 1989.)