The Aviator's Wife (1981)

The Aviator's Wife (1981)
7.6
  • 2980
  • PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release year: 1981 ()
  • Running time: 106 min
  • Original Title: La femme de l'aviateur
  • Voted: 2980

The aviator Christian visits his ex-mistress Anne seven o'clock in the morning, to tell her that their affair is over, because his wife is pregnant and will soon move to Paris. Anne's new lover, Fran?ois, happens to see Christian and Anne when they leave her house, and thinks that their affair is still going on. He tries to contact Anne, but she won't talk to him. At a pavement café Fran?ois sees Christian and an unknown woman, which he assumes is the aviator's wife. As he is in a bad mood and doesn't know what to do, he decides to follow the couple. On his way through a park he bumps into a cute girl, Lucie, who is 15 years old and has taken a day off from school. Lucie soon brings 20-year-old Fran?ois to explain to her what has happened to him this morning. She is excited by his story and especially the puzzling parts of it. She joins him in pursuing the couple and thinks out various hypotheses about them. When the couple goes into a lawyer's office, Lucie is sure that the unknown ...

#PersonCharacters
1Philippe MarlaudFran?ois
2Marie RivièreAnne
3Anne-Laure MeuryLucie
4Mathieu CarrièreChristian
5Philippe CaroitFran?ois' Friend
6Coralie ClémentAnne's Colleague
  • Rohmer knows relationships by 9

    In this bittersweet tale of disconnections and possibilities perhaps we have the essence of the art of Eric Rohmer. If you have only one Rohmer film to see, perhaps you ought to make it this one because it is so very, very French, so interestingly talkative (one of Rohmer's trademarks) and so very, very Rohmer.

    The Aviator's wife, incidentally does not appear except in a photograph, but that is all to the point. Everything is a bit off stage in this intriguing drama: love especially is a bit off stage. And yet how all the participants yearn.

    Marie Riviere stars as Anne who is in love with the aviator. We catch her just as she learns that he no longer wants her. He tells her that his wife is pregnant and so he must return to her. Meanwhile, she is being pestered by Francois (Philippe Marlaud) who is in love with her. However he is a little too young and "clinging." Truly she is not interested. It is a disconnection as far as she is concerned.

    The heart of the film occurs when Francois is following the aviator and the blond woman. Francois is obsessive and jealous. He follows because...it isn't clear and he really doesn't know why except that this is the man that Anne loves. As it happens while he is following them he runs into a pretty fifteen-year-old (Lucie, played fetchingly by Anne-Laure Meury) who imagines that he is following her. She turns it into a game, and again we have a disconnection. She is fun and cute and full of life, but he cannot really see her because he pines for Anne. Meanwhile Anne of course is pining for the aviator.

    Rohmer's intriguing little joke is about the aviator's wife. Who is she and what is she like? We can only imagine. And this is right. The woman imagines what the other woman is like, but never really knows unless she meets her.

    Maire Riviere is only passably pretty, but she has gorgeous limbs and beautiful skin and a hypnotic way about her, which Rohmer accentuates in the next to the last scene in her apartment with Francois. We follow the talk between the two, of disconnection and off center possibilities, of friends and lovers with whom things are tantalizingly not exactly right and yet not tragically wrong. As we follow this talk we see that Anne's heart is breaking or has broken--and all the while we see her skin as Francois does. She wants to be touched, but not by him. And then she allows him to touch her, but only in comforting gestures, redirecting his hands away from amorous intent. And then she goes out with a man in whom she really has no interest.

    Such is life, one might say. Rohmer certainly thinks so.

    One thing I love about Rohmer's films is that you cannot predict where they will go. Another thing is his incredible attention to authentic detail about how people talk and how they feel without cliché and without any compromise with reality--Rohmer's reality of course, which I find is very much like the reality that I have experienced.

    See this for Eric Rohmer whose entre into the world of cinema is substantial, original, and wonderfully evocative of what it is like to live in the modern world with an emphasis on personal relationships and love.

    (Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)

  • Strong debut for Comedies and Proverbs by 8

    It's hard to explain what exactly is so appealing about the films of Eric Rohmer. A plot summary of any of his films would surely make it sound like a dull affair or possibly even a soapy melodrama. Rohmer's films aren't about plot, however, one might even say they defy plot. Instead of focusing on conventional narrative, Rohmer concentrates on his characters. This is not to say that Rohmer chooses to show extraordinary individuals; the strength of his characters is actually in their ordinariness. His characters seem like people I really know or at the very least like people I might encounter. These characters aren't dumbed down or simplified to be more universal, either; each seems like a uniquely realized person.

    The Aviator's Wife is about Francois, a Parisian college student/mail sorter and his relationships with his older girlfriend Anne (who he suspects is cheating on him) and Lucie,a younger girl who picks him up in the park. Throughout the film we come to know both the flaws and strengths of these three characters, each of whom is curious (albeit for very different reasons) about a certain aviator and his wife. Francois is naive and clingy but very kind natured, Anne is strong but cruel, and Lucie is cheery and intelligent but also dishonest and coquettish.

    The Aviator's Wife is the first of Rohmer's six "Comedies and Proverbs" films. The proverb this time around is: "It is impossible to think about nothing." Within the context of the film this seems to refer to the inability of some of the characters to understand the significance (or lack of significance) of the things they hear. This theme works well enough but the film as a whole fails to be as captivating or as interesting as the previous Rohmer films I've seen (those being Pauline at the Beach and The Green Ray). This is especially apparent in the bedroom scene near the end of the film which goes on too long. Still, the comical ending was a fun surprise.

  • Rohmer's best by 8

    A gem. I don't usually like Rohmer's films, but this one is wonderful, even though some may feel the plot is extremely slight. But the texture, the wonderful actors, the capture of the small details of life made this an unforgettable movie.

  • The Aviator's Wife by 8

    Now I can safely deem I have reached an approximate age to watch Rohmer's canon, mid-30s is a ripe age to broach more cerebral film viewing activities, so my first and random pick is THE AVIATOR'S WIFE, Rohmer's first part of Comedies et Proverbes (6 parts in all) series.

    The film is capsulized in one-day's span, Francois (Marlaud), a young student whose night shift makes the relationship with his girlfriend Anne (Rivière) in strain, after witnessing Anne left with her ex-lover Christian (Carrière) from her apartment in the morning, and later a sour altercation with Anne, a jealousy-driven Francois compulsively follows Christian and his blonde companion (Caillot), and by happenstance he meets a 15-year-old schoolgirl Lucie (Meury), the two improvise an amateurish but perky private detective team until they find out Christian goes to visit a lawyer. After Lucie departs, Francois visits a stress-inflicted Anne, it seems they reconcile and Francois figures out who the blonde is. When the night falls, Anne is out for an exhausting date and Francois accidentally finds Lucie kiss another boy, so he sends a postcard to her and put a closure to their stalking adventure, the story ends.

    There is no big twist or melodramatic plots in Rohmer's film, he masterfully recounts the dribs and drabs of emotions pestering one's relationship and daily lives, visceral and empathetic, he unerringly captures the quirks and fluctuations of the characters he writes, no larger-than-life frills, everything returns to an authentic basis which reflects its transfixing mojo, for example, the intricate discovery of the blonde's identity is casually schemed, but never condescending or audience-pandering, truth reveals itself in its most trivial form, also in the park, when Lucie intends to take a Polaroid from two tourists, it is lifelikeness never feel redundant in spite of its overlong progress which would be trimmed in most cinematic presentations, but Rohmer is confident to let his audience to savor the subtle interactions among the players and keeps it vibrant.

    The sad trivia of the cast is Marlaud would soon die in a tragic camping tent fire accident after completing this film, he was only 22, in the film he interprets a sensitive and diffident boy, who is smitten with Anne, an independent working girl 5 years older than him, their on-and-off rapport is under close scrutiny, and Rivière takes on a more difficult role and dominates the screen especially during her expository declaration of her credo in self-reliance in her tiny apartment. Meury is a delight in the midstream, maybe too quick-witted for a 15-year-old, but her natural self-confidence could easily win audiences over.

    The titular wife only exists as a glimpse on a picture, whose back-story would illicit another film feature to expound an existential individual's philosophical quandary about affection and compromise. Sadly, there is no Rohmer in this world anymore.

  • A mysterious detail by 10

    Rohmer's subtlety in this film is approaching completion. There is a moment that I notice that went unnoticed but my opinion is essential in film flow. When Aviator and pass by Francois and his wife Lucie, Lucie says out loud in German Aviator returns (probably German aviator known) surprised. Lucile pretends he does not know what she said when in fact is very clear: "So you're ongoing to marry." Moment that completely changes the course of the film (which only apparently does not change). It is exactly the same method used by Flemish painters who were hiding in paintings seemingly trivial details surprising, subtle, encrypted messages. Brilliant film, perhaps one of the best I've seen....

#PersonCrew
1Bernard Luticcinematographer
2Éric Rohmerdirector
3Cécile Decugiseditor
4Margaret Ménégozproducer