Sunday, October 17

The Last Duel Film Review

 The Last Duel 

Written By: Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Starring: Jodie Comer, Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Ben Affleck
2 h 32 m

Based on the book THE LAST DUEL: A TRUE STORY OF TRIAL BY COMBAT in Medieval France by Eric Jager, THE LAST DUEL tells the historic story of the last officially recognized judicial duel fought in France. That sounds incredibly dull. It’s anything but that.

The backstory behind the duel is dramatic, intense, disgusting and 90% better than any episode of Game of Thrones - only the stakes are a lot higher than any iron throne.

Set in medieval France, the film stars Matt Damon as Jean de Carrouges, a knight who challenges his friend and squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) to a duel after Carrouges’s wife, Marguerite (Jodie Comer), accuses Le Gris of raping her.

Whoever loses the duel is considered the guilty party. Therefore, if Jean loses, Marguerite is also considered guilty and will be put to death for her indiscretions.

The movie utilizes the three-act Rashomon structure, retelling the same story from the three different standpoints of Jean, Jacques and Marguerite. For a two hour plus movie, it can seem a bit tedious but for the most part, the perspectives are set different enough, and engaging enough, that you don’t feel the movie drag.

As each act unveils new information, the tension continues to build for a nail-biting conclusion. (NOTE: If you’re like me and like to dive into historic facts behind a true story, do yourself a favor and go blind into this one for the most edge-of-your-seat experience. Then check out this article from the LA TIMES on the accuracy of the film)

The male characters are very dynamic and infuriating, with Affleck’s being the weakest link mainly due to a “comedic” demeanor. 

Marguerite can feel a bit flat next them. You want her to be more engaging, to be bolder, but I applaud Nicole Holofcener and Jodie Comer for holding back, and staying true to how women most likely acted/behaved during that era. 

The fact Marguerite even spoke out in 1386 is powerful in itself. 

Ridley Scott kept the film balanced with enough action between the drama to allow the audience a little relief and the duel itself was filmed with such intensity, you never forgot what was really at stake.

And that, in my opinion, was the most important aspect of telling this story. 

You want the audience to never forget what is really behind the fight. And with a story like this one, you also want the audience to leave imprinted by the horrific actions shown on screen. Make the audience want to engage in a better future.

Because even though this event took place in the late 1300’s, not much has changed. And it should.

Theresa's Rating
4.00 out of 5.00

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