Small Change (film)

Small Change
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
Les Films du Carrosse
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
March 17, 1976
Running time
105 minutes
Country France
Language French
Box office 2,071,0404 admissions (France)[1]

Small Change (French: L'Argent de poche) is a 1976 French film directed by François Truffaut. The title translates to "Pocket Money" from French, but since there was a Paul Newman movie called Pocket Money, Steven Spielberg suggested the title Small Change for US release.[2] 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.[3]


Small Change is a comedy with a serious message, based around the daily lives of young children in Thiers, France. Scenes include a baby and a cat perilously playing on an open windowsill, a girl causing confusion with a bullhorn, a double date at the movie theater, a kid telling a dirty joke, a botched haircut, as well as many scenes about school life. Yet throughout this the difficulties and responsibilities faced by children appear, including the ongoing story of a boy's experience of an abusive home. Truffaut gives a message of resilience in the face of injustice, vocalized through one of the teachers. The story ends with a message of hope, the school closing for the summer vacation, and one of the key characters finding his first love at a summer camp.

Most of the characters were not professional actors.





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"[5] and Pauline Kael described it as, "that rarity, a poetic comedy that's really funny."[6] 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."[7] Leonard Maltin gave the movie four stars (out of four) and called it "wise, witty and perceptive."[8] The film was also entered into the 26th Berlin International Film Festival.[9]


  1. Box Office information for Francois Truffaut films at Box Office Story
  2. Toubiana, Serge. "Steven Spielberg : la master class". Retrieved 15 January 2012.
  4. Allen, Don. Finally Truffaut. New York: Beaufort Books. 1985. ISBN 0-8253-0335-4. OCLC 12613514. pp. 235-236.
  5. New York Times review
  6. review
  7. Roger Ebert's review
  8. Leonard Maltin's 2006 Movie Guide, Signet: New York
  9. Awards for Small Change at the Internet Movie Database
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