The Last Duel Review
The Last Duel is one of this year’s greatest surprises for me. In a similar way too, when I first saw The Martian 2015, both were, of course, directed by Ridley Scott, who is a very hit and miss director for me.
He has created some fantastic and iconic films Alien, Blade Runner, or Gladiator. But for every great Ridley Scott film, you get some truly mediocre or even bad ones.
But The Last Duel felt like a great throwback to big-budget Hollywood movies that give you that strong immersion atmosphere and the threads and actions of another time period, while also telling a good and thought-provoking story.
This one sets in with the familiar based on a true story, and that true story was told in a 2004 book of the same name by the American author Eric Jager.
It was adapted for the screen by Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon, which also makes this the first movie that a letter to have written together since their Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting.
The titular The Last Duel has been the last legally sanctioned dual in the history of France. It happened in 386 between the 9th Sir Jean de Carrouges played by Matt Damon and his friend and Jacques Le Gris, played by Adam Driver.
After Carrouges’s wife Marguerite, played by Jodie Comer, claimed to have been raped by Le Gris. It was a duel to the death. And its depiction frames this movie version.
We enter right when the fight is about to begin, just to then get his elaborate flashback chapter structure, with the first chapter being titled The Truth According to Sir Jean de Carrouges Matt Damon’s character.
And because we get that as the chapter title, it’s also no spoiler that we can immediately safely assume that there will also be at least The Truth According to Jacques Le Gris Adam Driver’s character.
Which makes The Last Duel kind of a modern version or a medieval version of Akira Kurosawa classic 1950 film Rashomon, in which we also see a crucial event from different perspectives. And the rape of a young wife is also at the cent of that story.
But maybe surprisingly, that doesn’t actually mean that The Last Duel is some kind of mystery. The crucial events are really not up for debate, and there isn’t a big twist and the usual sense.
And when you realize that you might think so, what’s the point of telling the story from different perspectives?
Well, in doing so, it is actually dealing really well with its themes, and I guess it’s kind of needless to say, but with the Me Too movement just happening a few years ago, the film is really timely.
And I think it does a great job of telling this particular story and shining a light on the mechanisms and gender actions of our patriarchic society. And again doing that by also creating this really entertaining immersive big period piece.
Unlike Rashomon, the Last tool also doesn’t just focus on one specific event. It leads up to that event several times, but it also goes back several more years and really brings these different characters and their stories to live.
With Two and a half hours of runtime. It’s certainly a long film, and I’m sure that you could cut it shorter, but it also can deny that I really thoroughly enjoyed how these characters were put trade and hold a whole period setting was depicted.
The production values are fantastic. This is something that Ridley Scott has proven to be able to deliver several times in the past, and he does it again here. If you are hungry for a big-budget medieval setting, this will be for you.
The cinematography by Dariusz Wolski, the production designed by Arthur Max, the set decoration by Judy Farr, the costume designed by Janty Yates, as well as the work by all the makeup artists.
The Last Duel is a film that looks and feels super authentic. All the castles, all the animals, all the candlelight and rough weather, all the shots feel so rich and immersive.
And I just really liked how the film was structured and how everything in it felt like there’s intention and meaning behind it.
How My Damon’s chapter was so heavily influenced by all the different battles that he led in the name of his King. The Last Duel is a heavy and serious drama at heart, but it also has these small but rousing and super violent actions had pieces that show you the sheer brutality of that time.
And because this is Jean de Carrouges’s perspective or truth, we can slowly form his character in our heads or more Interestingly, what kind of man he thinks he is.
And when we get the perspective of his friend Jacques Le Gris, we experience a lot of the same moments in sometimes slightly, sometimes heavily different light, which is fascinating and also fun because USD audience are primed to pay special attention to little details.
Who is charging into battle first, who is approaching whom or what single word is interchanged in a dialogue?
But thankfully you don’t just get the same stuff multiple times because like I said, the movie’s covering several years and therefore we get many moments in time just once.
Because in many instances it’s not something that all characters were involved with, and I found it to be interesting to see the differences in their live stats and characters.
The second chapter doesn’t really have the battle scenes, but instead, it shines a light on the decadent frivolous activity ties the Jacques Le Gris into.
It’s a different world from that of Jean de Carrouges. And we also get more of Ben Affleck character Pierre d’Alençon.
I think Affleck colored hair was made fun of before or that he doesn’t seem to fit into a period piece, but I can tell you that I thought he was really great.
The entire cast is fantastic, and you will get some truly magnificent acting performances with this one. Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Ben Affleck, and last, but certainly not least, Jodie Comer.
This isn’t just a gorgeous-looking production, but also a real it actors film. It’s in the second chapter that I thought the film is really unafraid to get uncomfortable and to demonstrate just how much men think they are in the right, how easily they justify what they do, how they enable other men, and how they protect the status quo.
Now, for a film that’s about issues like these, it surely takes a while until Jodie Comer’s character Marguerite gets her time in the spotlight.
But I think it’s for once her powerhouse performance and the turn of her character as well as the film’s powerful stance that make up for it.
Elements that are also really liked in the later parts of the movie are how different aspects of life like medicine, religion, and a justice system are also depicted to uphold the power relations.
It’s, of course, also funny to see, and one might laugh about the stupidity of the times back then. But you also know or realize just how bad things are still today and what kind of nonsense people believe and want to believe and how much of that is keeping other people down.
So I am going to give The Last Duel a C-Plus.
Guys thank you so much as always for reading the review of The Last Duel. See you next time.
The Last Duel Trailer
Check out the trailer of the new Action, Drama, History film, The Last Duel 2021.
King Charles VI declares that Knight Jean de Carrouges settle his dispute with his squire by challenging him to a duel.