Talking It Out: “The Aviator’s Wife”

The Aviator's Wife
The Aviator’s Wife (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 20-year-old college student, Francois, in Eric Rohmer‘s French film, The Aviator’s Wife (1981), needs to find himself a woman other than Anne, the one he is obsessed with.  Anne is generally indifferent and rude to him, even after her married lover (an aviator) goes back to his wife.  It ought to be driven home to Francois that he is essentially empty-handed.  Lucie, an intelligent 15-year-old girl—the actress who plays her looks much older than fifteen—gradually tells him the truth about Anne (based on Francois’s information); but Lucie behaves as though she is attracted to Francois.  Is she?  And should this mean anything to the young man?  Is there still empty-handedness?

The first picture in Rohmer’s Comedies et Proverbes series, this has another impressively written script by Monsieur Eric, notwithstanding I recommend seeing half of it, on disk, at one time and the other half at another time.  There is so much talk I don’t see how boredom can be prevented otherwise.  The film lacks the whimsy and crispness of Rohmer’s best work (e.g. A Tale of Winter), but I do think it’s a smart success.

Marie Riviere (Anne), Philippe Marlaud (Francois) and Anne-Laure Meury (Lucie) are acting and yet not acting; they’re embodying people in a screenplay and it’s magnificent.  Contrast this with the performance of Mathieu Carriere as Anne’s ex-lover, which is less natural, less interesting.

(In French with English subtitles)

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