Films & Schedules

  • $5 a Day

  • Nigel Cole

90 minutes

Production Company:
Capitol Films/Baum/Goldenring Productions
Executive Producer:
David Bergstein
Kia Jam, Carol Baum, Jane Goldenring
Neal Dobrofsky, Tippi Dobrofsky
Production Designer:
Bryce Perrin
Peter Donahue
Susan Littenberg
Samuel Lehman, Patrick O'Sullivan
Alex Wurman
Principal Cast: Christopher Walken, Alessandro Nivola, Sharon Stone, Amanda Peet, Dean Cain

US Distributor:
International Sales Agent:

Saturday September 0606:45PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 1 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Sunday September 0709:30AM AMC 7 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Friday September 1212:00PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 1 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

In one of the most charming and heartfelt performances of his career, Christopher Walken plays a free-spirited hustler named Nat who claims that he can live on just five dollars a day. His rundown apartment is a veritable warehouse of freebies, coupons and contest prizes; his ride is a bubblegum pink and white Sweet'N Low car that he won free use of for one year. But none of this bounty has helped Nat repair his fractured relationship with his son Flynn (Alessandro Nivola), who has not spoken to him in years. After all, Flynn once went to jail for one of Nat's failed schemes.

Flynn is having a pretty bad day. He gets fired from his job just as his girlfriend Maggie (Amanda Peet) decides to leave him. It turns out his father (who Maggie thought was dead) has called to say that he is dying and would like to see Flynn. Partly in the hope of winning Maggie back and partly because he thinks there is a tiny possibility that Nat's claim is true, Flynn agrees to drive his father to New Mexico for a last-ditch treatment. Cruising in the Sweet'N Low car (a free year of gas!), Nat pretty much dictates the trip's agenda. The itinerary includes free desserts at IHOP (every day is Nat's birthday), stealing room-service carts and even sleeping in furnished houses with “For Sale” signs outside. One of the better stops along the way is a visit to Dolores (Sharon Stone), a former disciple of Nat's. And in the midst of this madness, a complex story involving Flynn's mother finally comes full circle, just when he most needs a resolution.

Director Nigel Cole, whose excellent past work includes the appealing and delectable Saving Grace and Calendar Girls, goes for an edgier, sharper comic tone in this film. His ace leading cast is up to the task, and clearly relish the idiosyncratic narrative shifts supplied by screenwriters Neal and Tippi Dobrofsky. There is no question the audience will too.

Jane Schoettle

Nigel Cole was born in Launceston, in the United Kingdom. He began his career directing the monthly music programme London Calling for MTV. He has since directed episodes for several television series, including In the Wild, Peak Practice and Cold Feet. His feature films include Saving Grace (00), Calendar Girls (03), A Lot Like Love (05) and $5 a Day (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award