Small Change (1976)
"L'argent de poche" (original title)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  17 March 1976 (France)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 4,115 users  
Reviews: 32 user | 19 critic

In the town of Thiers, summer of 1976, teachers and parents give their children skills, love, and attention. A teacher has his first child, a single mother hopes to meet Mr. Right, another ... See full summary »



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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nicole Félix ...
Grégory's mother (as Nicole Felix)
Chantal Mercier ...
Chantal Petit, the Schoolteacher
Jean-François Stévenin ...
Jean-François Richet, the Schoolteacher (as Jean-François Stevenin)
Virginie Thévenet ...
Lydie Richet (as Virginie Thevenet)
Georges Desmouceaux ...
Patrick Desmouceaux (as Geory Desmouceaux)
Tania Torrens ...
Nadine Riffle, hairdresser
René Barnerias ...
Monsieur Desmouceaux, Patrick's father
Philippe Goldmann ...
Julien Leclou
Katy Carayon ...
Sylvie's Mother
Laurent Devlæminck ...
Laurent Riffle
Jean-Marie Carayon ...
Police inspector, Sylvie's father
Annie Chevaldonne ...
Francis Devlaeminck ...
Monsieur Riffle, hairdresser, Laurent's father
Michel Dissart ...
Monsieur Lomay, constable
Michele Heyraud ...
Madame Deluca


In the town of Thiers, summer of 1976, teachers and parents give their children skills, love, and attention. A teacher has his first child, a single mother hopes to meet Mr. Right, another mom reaches out to Patrick, a motherless lad who is just discovering the opposite sex. Patrick befriends Julien, a new student who lives in poverty with his mother and has a terrible secret. Bruno shows his friends how to chat up girls. Sylvie stages a witty protest against her parents. Brothers give a friend a haircut. A toddler falls from a window and is unhurt. Everybody goes to the cinema. At camp, Martine catches Patrick's eye. A teacher explains: "Life is hard, but it's wonderful." Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 March 1976 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Small Change  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$4,624 (USA) (27 November 2009)


$38,296 (USA) (17 May 2013)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


François Truffaut:  Sitting in a cabriolet, wearing his standard blue shirt in the first minute of the film. See more »


Little Grégory: Gregory go boom!
See more »


Referenced in Frances Ha (2012) See more »


Les enfants s'ennuient le dimanche
Written and Performed by Charles Trenet
See more »

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User Reviews

Moments of Childhood Closely Observed
22 April 2006 | by (Toronto) – See all my reviews

Small Change unfolds like a poem - it's a collection of moments, thoughts and experiences, all clustered together, adding up to a very significant outcome. What it amounts to is the most thoughtful reflections of childhood I've ever seen, given from the perspective of many different age groups.

The film has many scenes that are used as a vehicle to illustrate the differences between children and adults - usually comparing the former favorably to the latter. This is clear in a scene where a girl and her father watch two seemingly identical goldfish swimming around in a fishbowl. "That's Plic" says the girl. "And that's Ploc." But her father can't see the difference. A child's superior eye for detail has rarely been so clearly exposed on film.

Most of the vignettes are funny. Some demonstrate childhood resilience, such as a scene where a toddler falls nine stories but is uninjured. Another shows children's uncanny ability to make the best of a bad situation, when a girl left alone at home thinks of an interesting way to draw attention to herself.

But among these funny episodes a more serious situation develops. The movie slowly but sharply draws a contrast between the children who come from loving families, and one child, a youth of about 13, who does not. Moments of this abused child's life are also closely observed - the pain of rejection, the joy of finding coins on the ground at an amusement park, and the innovative schemes to get by and survive. Julien's childhood is shown as a painful period, but an occasionally magical one nonetheless.

What is so pleasurable about viewing Small Change is its simplicity - it's rarely a film where you constantly need to grope your mind for implications or deeper meaning. Most of the scenes are remarkably uncluttered, just like childhood itself.

Unbelievably, this film was rated R upon its original release, then rightfully changed to a PG upon public outcry. A PG-13 would probably be the most appropriate rating, but this classification wouldn't come into effect for another 7 years. It is completely appropriate for children, but does seem geared primarily towards adults. Because the language is quite simple, it could also be viewed as an ideal movie in second or third year French. Not just for fans of Truffaut, I couldn't recommend this remarkable movie more.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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