The Last Duel

Another film appeared on Vudu this weekend that I missed out on seeing while it was having its theatrical run, and that film is Ridley Scott’s new epic, The Last Duel. The Last Duel was based on a novel by Eric Jager entitled The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France.

The film reveals the story behind the last duel that happened in France. Two old friends, Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) and Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) over the accusation that Jacques raped Jean’s wife, Marguerite (Jodie Comer). The duel was meant to show God’s Will and the truth of what happened.

The film is split into three chapters, each one showing the perspective of the three main characters, starting with Carrouges, followed by Jacques and ending with Marguerite. Seeing the three different POVs provided some fascinating viewing. How little moments were seen differently by the people involved shows how one’s mind can be affected by the manner in which you approach things. It makes one wonder what exactly truth is to other people.

While the film is placing the two males at the center of the duel, it is the struggles of Marguerite that is the real interest of the picture. The misogynistic society could not be more on display when it was stated that the rape of Marguerite was not a crime against her, but a crime against her husband, and it was he that required reparations. It was also stated clearly that if the duel went against Carrouges, Marguerite would be hanged for the “lies” that she told, despite it being truth.

The finale of the movie was just tremendous, the duel being easily the standout moment of The Last Duel. It was dramatic and exciting and I was not sure what way the film was taking this. The fight between them was cinematically excellent.

Performances were all excellent. Adam Driver was the top performance as it seemed as if he really believed that he had not committed rape, and that, instead, he had succumb to passion that was felt by both of them. The character believed in his statement, even going as far as to confess to adultery only. Matt Damon was a cold man who did not bring much pity upon himself. Ben Affleck played Pierre II d’Alençon, overlord assigned by King Charles VI (Alex Lawther). The cast was strong from top to bottom.

The look of the film was exquisite. It was shot beautifully, with a muffled bit of color. The choreography was great and the design of the historical epic was right on point.

I do think the film was too long, clocking in at over 2 and a half hours. It could have shaved off several minutes and been a more concise tale. The first part of the film did drag on a bit, but the finale certainly picked up.

Overall, The Last Duel was an excellent medieval epic that dealt with serious topics of the way women were treated at the time. The ending was extremely satisfying and helped wrap up the overly long film.

3.75 stars

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