American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Well, to begin with, we never meet the aviator's wife. We hear a lot about her, and we meet a mysterious blond woman who seems, for an afternoon, as if she might be his wife, but in the end the wife never turns up. She nevertheless causes a lot of unhappiness for the young hero of Eric Rohmer's new film, and teaches us the following lesson: It is enough to be unhappy about what we already know, without also being unhappy about what we only surmise.
"The Aviator's Wife" is like such earlier Rohmer films as "My Night at Maud's," "Claire's Knee" and "Chloe in the Afternoon." It consists of a carefully -observed slice of life, containing lessons on human nature. Like those films, particularly the last two, it also contains a wonderful, quiet wit, and a view of its characters that could be called affectionate anthropology,
Another lesson this time might be: What fools we are when it comes to love! Or, more properly, what fools others are, but what tragic heroes we are, when it comes to love. The movie's story is very complicated, but not needlessly so, since it studies the labyrinths we can create with jealousy. It might be fun to take a quick trot through the maze:
The hero of the film is a 20-year-old postman who is in love with a 25-year-old woman. He works all night, she doesn't. Right away, they have problems. One morning, he arrives early at her apartment to see another man leaving. He knows that this man once had an affair with his girl. What he doesn't know is that the man arrived at the apartment only moments earlier, to break up with the woman for once and all. The man Is a pilot, and he has just explained that he will be staying with his wife after all, since she is pregnant. She is the famous "aviator's wife" -- if, indeed, she exists.