Critic Pauline Kael neatly summed up the timeless appeal of François Truffaut's 1976 film by calling it "that rarity--a poetic comedy that's really funny." In other words, Truffaut's brilliant, upbeat study of resilient ch... more »ildren in a French village is both artistically satisfying and joyously entertaining, proving yet again (after his acclaimed debut film The 400 Blows) that few directors remembered and understood the experience of childhood as clearly as Truffaut. The film's episodic structure reveals its young characters gradually, leaving them and returning to them as their individual stories unfold. Most of the sketches are hilarious (as when a little girl uses a megaphone to announce that she's been "abandoned," resulting in generous gifts of food from her surrounding neighbors), but there's also a story about a boy with abusive parents who learns to survive by his own ingenuity. Throughout, this remarkable film gets all the details precisely right, featuring a youthful cast of kids who don't seem to be acting at all. It's as if Truffaut had somehow gained privileged entrance into their world, and they carried on as if the camera simply wasn't there. (Another French film, Ponette, would achieve a similar, more heartbreaking feat two decades later.) --Jeff Shannon« less
"I've read all the reviews and they all seem to be missing the REAL point of the movie. Sure, it shows some delightfully comedic vignettes about childhood in France (and well, really the nature of childhood), but all of those funny bits like Geoffrey a fait boum and the police chief's daughter with her megaphone "j'ai faim" stand in stark contrast to the outcast Julien Leclerc (please pardon me if that is not precisely his name, but I am relying on my memory on this), who lives in a run down shack on a street where people just did not live and who was regularly abused by the "unseen enemy" of his family members (which yes, you do see in the end).In this film we see the contrast of the innocence of childhood shattered by the heartbreak of abuse. This was an era where child abuse was just beginning to be dealt with in the media and we see Truffaut giving us intermittent glimpses of a child on his own, finding it hard to stay awake in class because he was forced out of the house for the night, picking up coins that dropped out of people's pockets at a local carnival, and fearing taking his clothes off for the school physical because of the bruises on his body.I think we do a great disservice to the film and to Truffaut to call it a comedy. There is so much more to it than that."
Nearly 30 Years Later, It's Still Superb
James Carragher | New York | 10/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Never mind that the DVD subtitles call the film Pocket Money, which is the literal translation from the French, this Small Change jingles as lyrically as it did on first release in 1976. These children will now be somewhere in their 30s and early 40s, somewhere in France, anonymous probably in their daily lives, but they will always be here, captured being kids by Truffaut in the most unobtrusive way possible. Their daily resilience is most famously depicted in the scene of Gregory fait boum, but their energy, their mischievousness, their innocence and budding, bumbling curiosity about that great mystery, girls is all here too. As a hymn to childhood, including its darker recesses, Small Change will never be bettered and rarely be equaled, and anyone serious about movies and moviemaking should always have it close at hand."
Truffaut at his best!
D. Pawl | Seattle | 12/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw "Small Change" when I was only a child myself. At age twelve, I was suffering from serious depression, had a horrible self esteem and was probably at the lowest point in my life ever. This film was just the tonic I needed. The legendary filmmaker, Francois Truffaut, made this film about life through the eyes of children, telling each story with humor, intensity and profound beauty. This film is definitely great for anyone who has suffered childhood trauma. It shows us that we are truly never alone when we suffer injustice, also, that laughter is a universal language we all can relate to.
There are several vignettes told from the point of view of several of the young characters, but the two that stand out for me are about the little girl who claims she was abandoned and left alone in her apartment by her parents (she is actually just a spoiled brat) and proceeds to broadcast this to all of the neighbors via megaphone, and the young boy who lives in an abusive home. These stories were touching and triumphant and they could have truly happened anywhere in the world and would still compel us as audience members. They don't make films like this anymore......"
The Surviving Child?
Kim Anehall | Chicago, IL USA | 01/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Small Change is a film that describes interactions between different children and their social macrocosm and this leads to different results in their social microcosms, since the children are under the complete control of their guardians. The adults' parenting sometimes leaves the children vulnerable and which is presented in a number of troubling scenes. Despite these perilous situations, the children survive and have to learn how to manage by themselves in order to live a happy life. Nevertheless, the parents do offer affection and love for the children, which aids in their struggle through life. In turn, the children also affect adult rule over them through different actions. Truffaut displays great understanding for children through this film by creating a next to perfect dissection of child development and child psychology that psychologists such as Harlow, Vygotsky and Piaget would call "a functioning experiement in action". Overall, there are several pleasurable moments in the film that are well balanced with the serious occasions, which leaves the audience with a brilliant cinematic experience that is full of wonderful life lessons."
Small Change (L'Argent de Poche)
John Farr | 08/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If ever a movie demonstrated a directors affection for the lives and characters of children, "Small Change" is it. This intimate little film is warm, wise and touching, brimming with humanity and imbued with a delightful Gallic flavor. (Highlight: watching little Gregory go: Boum!). Dont miss this gem."