The Aviator's Wife

The Aviator's Wife

The original French poster for The Aviator's Wife.
Directed by Éric Rohmer
Produced by Margaret Ménégoz
Written by Éric Rohmer
Starring Phillippe Marlaud
Marie Rivière
Anne-Laure Meury
Music by Georges Prat
Cinematography Bernard Lutic
Edited by Cécile Decugis
Distributed by Fox/Lorber (United States)
Release dates
  • 1981 (1981) (France)
Running time
104 minutes
Country France
Language French
Box office $835.000[1]

The Aviator's Wife (French: La femme de l'aviateur) is a 1981 French film written and directed by Éric Rohmer. The film stars Phillippe Marlaud, Marie Rivière and Anne-Laure Meury. Like many of his films, it deals with the ever-evolving love lives of a group of young Parisians.

This was the first in Rohmer's "Comedies & Proverbs" series a collection of six films the director made during the 1980s. Each of these films begins with a proverb, in the case of The Aviator's Wife this is: "On ne saurait penser à rien" or "It is impossible to think about nothing".


A young man who believes his girlfriend is cheating on him with an ex-boyfriend decides to follow his rival through Paris.

Twenty-year-old François (Marlaud) is in love with the fiercely independent 25-year-old Anne (Rivière). One morning, Anne's airline-pilot ex, Christian (Carrière), visits her to tell her that it is over between them and that he will return to his wife. François just happens to see the two leave Anne's building together and becomes obsessed by the idea that she is cheating on him.

As he strolls aimlessly through the streets of Paris, he catches sight of Christian in a café with another woman. As they leave and jump on a bus François decides to follow them. A 15-year-old girl he has never met, Lucie (Anne-Laure Meury) figures out what he is up to and playfully joins in with his amateur espionage.

Throughout the day, their stories and explanations for Christian's action become increasingly complex and outlandish. Eventually, they lose track of Christian in a taxi and they both leave, promising to write to each other if they ever found out what Christian was really up to. François returns to Anne where he discovers that all was not as it seemed between Christian and the blonde woman.

Later that night François goes to Lucie's flat seemingly to put a postcard in her mail box. He spots Lucie embracing a young man, obviously returning from a date. He leaves, although stopping to drop the postcard into a mailbox.

Production background

After completing his "Six Moral Tales" series in 1972 with L'amour l'après-midi, Rohmer spent the remainder of the decade filming historical literary adaptations (see Perceval and La Marquise d'O...). At the beginning of the next decade, the director returned to writing his own material and The Aviator's Wife is the first of the "Comedies & Proverbs" series.



As with most of Rohmer's output, the critical reception was mixed. Roger Ebert praised the film, particularly the acting, whilst others (The New York Times, for example) did not appreciate the director's trademark passive and deliberately paced shooting style.


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