A woman defies her country and changes the course of history in Ridley Scott’s Tbe Last Duel.
Based on a true story, Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer) claims she has been raped by her husband’s friend (Adam Driver). Her husband, Knight Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) decides to settle the dispute by challenging him to a duel — the last legally sanctioned duel in France.
First things first, we need to applaud director, Ridley Scott, who managed to create this massive historical epic at the age of 83 AND during the height of the global pandemic. Bravo!
He does a fantastic bringing the medieval world to life in an authentic and gritty way through its brilliant cinematography, battle sequences, production design, and costume design. Not to mention the titular scene itself is *chef’s kiss*.
The film is divided into three chapters — each from a different character’s perspective. Although a creative spin to a “he-said-she-said”, it does make the storytelling feel uneven, with jarring jump cuts.
Chapter one (told from Matt Damon’s character) was a wee painful to get through, probably because the character and his medieval mullet are so detestable. The second and third chapters are very compelling, showcasing captivating performances from Adam Driver and Jodie Comer. This is fair as the ensemble is what truly makes the film memorable.
To put it plainly, Jodie Comer’s back must hurt from carrying this film on her back. Comer is an actress I admire immensely, and her quiet turmoil and resilience is the highlight of the film. I would personally love to see her get a little recognition this upcoming awards season.
On the other hand, another performance I have to call out is Ben Affleck. He plays a mischievous and stereotypical medieval monarch, who trounces around like an older King Joffrey, with bleach blonde hair and golden slippers. Although his character is unlikable, I found his performance wildly hilarious — as well as Alex Lawther, who plays the VERY YOUNG King Charles VI. Didn’t know we’d have some jokesters in a film of this topic.
Otherwise, if you remove the performances and production value, the screenplay itself is averagely written and relies heavily on being ostentatious rather than impactful. Basically, the film knows it is has Award winning and is just totally drinking that Oscar Bait Kool Aid.
But the heart of the film is sharing a historical #MeToo milestone and the still pertinent, vile portrayal misogynistic hypocrisy, and for that I say, bravo.
Final Thoughts: Despite lacking some power, Comer and Ridley kill it in the genuine and gritty historical drama, The Last Duel.