For Reel


Small Change (1976)
July 18, 2012, 2:08 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: François Truffaut

One of François Truffaut’s most commercially successful films, Small Change is an often precious, somewhat slight tribute to the resilience of children, encompassing everything from burgeoning sexuality to child abuse. Unlike his landmark The 400 Blows, which pitted a child against a number of adults who failed to understand him, Truffaut is much more optimistic in this later effort – sometimes gratingly so, as in a misjudged soliloquy addressed to the students by their teacher in a late scene. Yet, despite such missteps, the vignettes are both enchanting and identifiable, with Truffaut’s humor being significantly more pronounced than one might expect of him. In the picture’s most lasting episode, a toddler chases a cat out of a window and plummets to the ground unscathed. It’s a nail-biting sequence that culminates with the surreal, a fascinating detour that perhaps houses Truffaut’s central idea – that children are not quite as vulnerable and helpless as adults expect them to be. Sensitive and nostalgic, it’s a film that beautifully details the day-to-day of kids that we only gradually come to know and appreciate.