The Aviator’s Wife (1981)
Eric Rohmer was a busy man during his film career which began in the 1960s, completing Six Moral Tales by 1972, working on adaptations for the remainder of the decade, and by the 1980s reverting back to a series of films again. This latest collection would become known as Comedies & Proverbs and began in 1981 with The Aviator’s Wife. I have seen a few of Rohmer’s films including La Collectionneuse (1967), Love in the Afternoon (1972) and two other entries from Comedies & Proverbs – Pauline at the Beach (1983) and Green Ray (1986). Naturally, I was curious to see how the first film in this series would compare.
The Aviator’s Wife is a romantic comedy/mystery film with a complicated love triangle and a spot of espionage thrown in. Francois (Phillippe Marlaud) is in a relationship with Anne (Marie Rivière) who is a few years older than him. As keen as the young man is, Anne is often distant and dismissive of him, leaving Francois feeling rejected and confused. Things get spicy when Anne is visited by Christian (Mathieu Carrière), her ex-lover who is also an airline pilot and the aviator of the film’s title. Christian informs Anne that his wife is pregnant and he is leaving Paris to be with her. Things become very complicated when Francois spots Christian and Anne leaving her apartment together. Convinced she is being unfaithful, Francois decides to follow Christian and figure out what is going on.
Rohmer’s comedy is an interesting study of relationships with Francois and Anne’s union being a rather perplexing one. She seems cold with both her current lover and with her ex who pays her an unwanted visit at the outset. Francois is clearly besotted with his girlfriend but also doesn’t come across as one to suffer fools gladly. The film is at its best when Francois begins his pursuit of Christian, on the sly of course, and the mystery of the aviator’s wife begins to unravel. Much of the comedy comes from Lucie (Anne-Laure Meury), a fifteen year old girl that Francois meets by chance and who offers the would-be detective some assistance in his search. She obviously had nothing better to do at the time. While the film’s conclusion is rather abrupt, it remains a fun and intriguing little piece from start to finish.
Verdict: A compelling and amusing portrayal of an awkward love triangle.