Small Change (film)

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Small Change
Argent poche.jpg
Directed by François Truffaut
Produced by Marcel Berbert
Written by François Truffaut,
Suzanne Schiffman
Starring Jean-François Stévenin,
Virginie Thévenet
Music by Maurice Jaubert
Cinematography Pierre-William Glenn
Edited by Yann Dedet
Martine Barraqué-Curie
Production
company
Les Films du Carrosse
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
17 March 1976
Running time
105 minutes
Country France
Language French
Box office 2,071,0404 admissions (France)[1]
$1.5 million (US)[2]

Small Change (French: L'Argent de poche) is a 1976 French film directed by François Truffaut about childhood innocence and child abuse. The French title translates as "Pocket Money"; but since there was a Paul Newman movie called Pocket Money, Steven Spielberg suggested the title Small Change for the US release.[3] In English-speaking countries outside North America the film is known as "Pocket Money". The film had a total of 1,810,280 admissions in France, making it one of Truffaut's most successful films.[4] Only his films The 400 Blows and The Last Metro were more popular in France.[1]

Plot[edit]

Small Change is a story of the struggles and yearnings of young children in Thiers, France, in the summer of 1976. The main characters are Patrick Desmouceaux, who is motherless and just starts getting interested in women such as his young teacher, and his friend Julien Leclou, who lives in poverty and is physically abused at home. Julien cannot stay awake at school after a night without sleep, and refuses to undress in order to hide his bruises. The film mixes the story of these characters with other more or less innocent childhood experiences and challenges of a number of children. Scenes include life at school, a toddler and a cat perilously playing on an open windowsill but falling down unhurt, a girl causing confusion with a bullhorn in an apartment window, Bruno showing his friends how to chat up girls, a double date at a movie theater, a child telling a dirty joke, a botched haircut, first love and first kisses. In the end Julien's abuse becomes public and he is taken away from his family. The story ends with the message of one of the teachers about child abuse, injustice, children's rights, hope, love and resilience: "Of all mankind's injustices, injustice to children is the most despicable! Live isn't always fair, but we can fight for justice. [...] If kids had the right to vote, they would have better schools [...] Life isn't easy. You must steel yourselves to face it. I don't mean "hard-boiled". I am talking about endurance and resilience. [...] Time flies. Before long, you will have children of your own. If you love them, they will love you. If they don't feel you love them, they will transfer their love and tenderness to other people. Or to things. That's life! Each of us needs to be loved!"[5]

Cast[edit]

Most of the characters were not professional actors.

Children

  • Philippe Goldmann - Julien
  • Bruno Staab - Bruno
  • Geory Desmouceaux - Patrick
  • Laurent Devlaeminck - Laurent
  • Sylvie Grezel - Sylvie
  • Pascale Bruchon - Martine
  • Claudio Deluca - Mathieu
  • Franck Deluca - Frank
  • Sebastien Marc - Oscar
  • Richard Golfier - Richard

Adults

  • Nicole Félix - Grégory's mother (as Nicole Felix)
  • Chantal Mercier - Chantal Petit, the Schoolteacher
  • Jean-François Stévenin - Jean-François Richet, the Schoolteacher
  • Virginie Thévenet - Lydie Richet
  • Tania Torrens - Nadine Riffle, hairdresser
  • René 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
  • Jeanne Lobre - Julien's grandmother (as Jane Lobre)
  • Vincent Touly - Concierge[6]

Production[edit]

Truffaut had been collecting anecdotes about children since the time of The 400 Blows. Some of the incidents were autobiographical, like his first kiss. By 1972 the script was only a ten page synopsis. In the summer of 1974 Truffaut became more serious about the project and started developing it further. He and his co-writer did not create a standard script because he wanted the freedom to improvise. In April 1975 Truffaut did location scouting, settled on the town of Thiers started casting. The filiming lasted from 17 July 1975 until October. The original rough cut was three hours.[2]

Acclaim[edit]

When released, Small Change amassed critical acclaim. It was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film. Vincent Canby of the New York Times called Small Change, "an original, a major work in minor keys"[7] and Pauline Kael described it as, "that rarity, a poetic comedy that's really funny."[8] Roger Ebert named it his favorite of the year, calling it a "magical film" and singled out the windowsill scene as "Truffaut at his best."[9] Leonard Maltin gave the movie four stars (out of four) and called it "wise, witty and perceptive."[10] The film was also entered into the 26th Berlin International Film Festival.[11]

Box office[edit]

The film was popular at the box office, in France, the US, Germany, Scandinavia and Japan.[2] It was the 17th most popular film of the year in France.[12]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Box Office information for Francois Truffaut films". Box Office Story. 
  2. ^ a b c de Baecque, Antoine; Toubiana, Serge (2000). François Truffaut. University of California Press. p. 322-324. 
  3. ^ Toubiana, Serge. "Steven Spielberg : la master class". arte.tv. Archived from the original on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 15 January 2012. 
  4. ^ http://www.jpbox-office.com/fichfilm.php?id=8104
  5. ^ Truffaut, F. (1976). Small change / Pocket money. Full quote: [...] Of all mankind's injustices, injustice to children is the most despicable! Live isn't always fair, but we can fight for justice. It's the only way. It's a slow process, but we do move forward. All people with power like to claim they are impervious to threats. But they do give in to pressure. A show of strength is the only way to get results. Adults understand that and they obtain what they ask for by demonstrating. I want to show that when adults are determined they can improve their lot. But children's rights are totally ignored. Political parties are not concerned. With kids like Julien or you. Do you know why? Because children don't vote! If kids had the right to vote, they would have better schools and sports facilities. You would get them because the politicians need your vote. You could come to school an hour later in winter instead of rushing out before daylight. I also want to say, because of my own childhood, I feel kids deserve a better deal. That is why I became a school teacher. Life isn't easy. You must steel yourselves to face it. I don't mean "hard-boiled". I am talking about endurance and resilience. Some of us, who had a difficult childhood are better equipped for adult life than those who were overprotected by love. It's the law of compensation. Life may be hard, but it's also wonderful. When we are confined to the sickbed, we cannot wait to get out and enjoy life. We sometimes forget how much we really love it. [...] Time flies. Before long, you will have children of your own. If you love them, they will love you. If they don't feel you love them, they will transfer their love and tenderness to other people. Or to things. That's life! Each of us needs to be loved! 
  6. ^ Allen, Don. Finally Truffaut. New York: Beaufort Books. 1985. ISBN 0-8253-0335-4. OCLC 12613514. pp. 235-236.
  7. ^ New York Times review
  8. ^ Amazon.com review
  9. ^ Roger Ebert's review
  10. ^ Leonard Maltin's 2006 Movie Guide, Signet: New York
  11. ^ Awards for Small Change on IMDb
  12. ^ "1976 French Box Office". Box Office Story. 

External links[edit]