It’s good to take in a little François Truffaut once in a while, especially if it’s one you haven’t seen. Hell, I hadn’t even fucking heard of Pocket Money until this week. But if it’s Truffaut doing a story from a child’s perspective, sign me up immediately.
The 400 Blows is one of my favorite films of all time, a chance to see Truffaut return to form would be priceless. That was such a personal story to him, though, that to match the magic he pulled from his own childhood would be next to impossible. And it proves so in Pocket Money.
As with most of Truffaut’s work, he works a small story into each scene, effectively piecing together a narrative by a string of vignettes. However, in this film, he’s trying to tie too many separate narratives together with the same string. Each story is brilliant on its own, and the huge ensemble works well, weaving in an out of each others’ lives. But he switches back and forth between stories so often that it’s hard to keep track of each one.
But back to the kids. They are amazing, and Truffaut does a magnificent fucking job of getting shining performances out of each of them. He shows the difficulties of grade-school life, first crushes, awkwardness around the opposite sex, class struggles etc. And he absolutely fucking nails the interwoven nature of small-town life. We know all these characters. We know the because they’re real, or at least they were when we were in grade school.
As a series of shorts, Pocket Money would have been brilliant. But as a single narrative, it becomes difficult to follow. It’s almost as if Truffaut had a number of stories in mind and couldn’t decide on a single one. That being said, as with any of his films, I could watch it again and again just for the beauty he shows us in everyday life.
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