Small Change (1976, Francois Truffaut)

Scenes with kids in town and school, episodic with a couple more-central characters (I’m thinking of the poor boy with abusive parents who gets rescued by social services at the end). Katy’s favorite part was the girl whose parents went out for dinner without her so she yelled “I’m hungry, I’m hungry” through a bullhorn out her window until the neighbors sent a picnic basket to her window using ropes and pulleys. I liked the double date at the movies, where the meek boy loses out and his friend takes both girls. Also wonderful, an Antichrist-recalling scene with a toddler chasing a cat slooowly out a tenth-floor window, finally falling and bouncing harmlessly upon the ground. It’s frightening at first until I realized (and assured Katy) that Truffaut doesn’t kill children, especially not in a comedy. Ebert liked “the painful earnestness that goes into the recitation of a dirty joke that neither the teller nor the listeners quite understand.”

Ebert again: “He correctly remembers that childhood itself is episodic: Each day seems separate from any other, each new experience is sharply etched, and important discoveries and revelations become great events surrounded by a void. It’s the accumulation of all those separate moments that create, at last, a person.”

Of all the kids, how many went on to further acting careers? Only Eva Truffaut, unsurprisingly. More unexpected is that only a few of the adult actors have any other acting credits. Hairdresser Mrs. Riffle (Tania Torrens) was in The Lover, Lydie Richet (Virginie Thevenet) was in Chabrol’s Cry of the Owl, and new father Mr. Richet the schoolteacher (Jean-Francois Stevenin) played Marlon in Out 1 and more recently appeared in The Limits of Control. Same cowriter (Suzanne Schiffman) and cinematographer as Out 1, too.

Oddly, the U.S. poster I found online says “Roger Corman presents…”

Should’ve been called Pocket Money (French is L’argent de poche) but the name was taken by a Lee Marvin/Paul Newman flick a couple years before. The Truffaut movie plus the Tom Waits “Small Change” album released the same year (the two are unrelated; nobody in the film gets rained on with his own thirty-eight) effectively wiped the Lee Marvin film’s title from the English language… now we wouldn’t dream of naming a movie Pocket Money.

Nominated for a Golden Globe (remember those?) but beaten by Bergman. It’s nice to see shouts-out to Bergman and Truffaut in a year when every actress in Freaky Friday was nominated.

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