Tonight, I watched ‘L’Argent de poche’ with my wife. She’d never seen it before and I think the last time I saw it must be over eighteen years ago.
It was made in 1976 and it’s one of my favourite ever films. Well, I feel I should qualify that: Truffaut is my favourite director. So, a lot of my favourite films are Truffaut films. Before you think I’m trying to come across as a film-snob, I must point out that another of my favourite ever films is Gremlins 2: The New Batch. I’d certainly put that in my top ten. I don’t like films because they’re arty or obscure, I like films that grab me, that involve me, heart and soul.
And for that, no-one beats Truffaut.
From seeing Les Quatre Cents Coups as a kid and being utterly, absolutely blown away to hunting down his DVDs decades later, Truffaut has always captivated me. I admit, I’m slightly obsessed. When people start talking about Tarantino or Scorcese, yes, I can appreciate aspects of their work. But Truffaut had it all!
Watching ‘L’Argent de poche’ tonight, I was entranced by the lightness of Truffaut’s direction. It’s essentially a film about being a kid, that kind of strange, roaming existence that people of my age had when we were little kids, thirty years ago. I know that culture has gone now – no kid would have the free-rein to get up to the kind of mischief we did back then. They’ll probably start RFID tagging the poor little bleeders soon.
‘L’Argent de poche’ brought all those adventures back to me. It helps that in ’76, I was around the age of the kids in the film, maybe a year or so older. So the clothes, the hairstyles, the cars, the look of the ’70s, that was all like watching a film of my own childhood. (The same thing is true when I watch ‘Gregory’s Girl’.)
There are multiple stories going on in the film, none of them earth-shattering narratives. They’re just small moments, what life is like when you’re a kid. Truffaut also catches the shyness of pre-teen boys and girls perfectly. I remember that uncertainty and… mystification. What are girls? Why are they so annoying? Why do they ruin all the our fun… but why do I like being near them?
If this sounds cloyingly sweet, it’s not. There’s a darker plot too, which I won’t spoil, and a couple of genuine moments of heart-in-your-mouth tension. This isn’t a Disneyfication of childhood. Truffaut, as always, is a master storyteller. You wouldn’t think a film about nothing really that much at all would be so gripping.
If you’re not already a Truffaut convert, please check out this film or any of his others. The best film ever made, ‘L’homme qui aimait les femmes‘ is now available on DVD for around five quid! Five quid!!
So, rent some or buy some but let some François Truffaut into your life. You won’t regret it! 🙂