DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
SMALL CHANGE (Argent de poche, L') (director/writer: Francois Truffaut; screenwriter: Suzanne Schiffman; cinematographer:  Pierre-William Glenn; editor: Yann Dedet; cast: Geory Desmouceaux (Patrick Desmouceaux), Claudio Deluca (Mathieu Deluca), Philippe Goldmann (Julien Leclou), Sylvie Grizel (Sylvie), Bruno Staab (Bruno Rouillard), Jean-François Stévenin (Jean-François Richet, the 
Schoolteacher), Chantal Mercier (Chantal Petit, the Schoolteacher), Virginie Thévenet (Lydie Richet), Marcel Berbert (Headmaster), Nicole Felix (Grégory's mother), Corinne Boucart (Corinne); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Marcel Berbert/Rolan Thénot; MGM Home Entertainment; 1976-France-in French with English subtitles)

 
"Delightfully competent but slight episodic childhood drama/comedy."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Francois Truffaut ("The Green Room"/"The Wild Child"/"Mississippi Mermaid") helms and cowrites with Suzanne Schiffman this delightfully competent but slight episodic childhood drama/comedy that's set in the provincial small-town of Thiers (in South Central France), in the summer of 1976. It features the use of non-professional children (with the teachers played by professional actors), who Truffaut captures in their cuteness and spontaneity as they interact at play, at school and at home without idealizing their childhood as he celebrates those innocent years.

The film is basically plotless, as it follows the mostly lighthearted activities of some ten kids in the closing weeks of the school year and during the summer vacation of camp. The vignettes include a boy named Bruno (Bruno Staab) telling his friend how to talk to girls, a double date at the movies, a toddler who falls unhurt from a window as he's concerned about a kitten on the ledge, a 10-year-old boy telling his first dirty joke in the playground even though he doesn't understand it, brothers who give a friend a haircut, a little girl forced to stay at home as a punishment who takes her father's battery-powered megaphone to announce to the neighbors that she's hungry and her parents have abandoned her to dine out, a young lad named Patrick (Georges Desmouceaux) who discovers girls and helps care for his father, a girl named Sylvie (Sylvie Grizel) who rebels against her parents in a witty way, a single mother who hopes to meet Mr. Right, the impoverished new student Julien (Philippe Goldmann) who comes from a painful home life that forces him to steal food to survive and the children's concerned school teacher Jean-François Richet (Jean-François Stévenin) who has his first child and provides the film with its theme when he states: "Life is hard, but it's wonderful."

A minor Truffaut, smeared with a sentimentality that is washed over with its heart-warming stories that tell of the children's joys and sorrows from their viewpoint.

REVIEWED ON 11/2/2008        GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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