Review: The Last Duel is a jousting affair

The Last Duel was movie director Ridley Scott’s return. We have not had the pleasure of a film by him in over four years. 

Ridley’s Alien Covenant (2017) polarised fans. All the money in the world (2017) was a write-off because of having to reshot the scenes with Christopher Plummer. This was after replacing Kevin Spacey who went into Hollywood exile because of allegations of sexual assault. 

Adapted from the novel, Last duel: a true story of trail by combat in medieval France by Eric Jager, the film is set in beautiful medieval French countryside.

Written by Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Nicole Holofcener it is a film well worth watching. 

Scott loves his historical backdrops, and never fails to please in this regard. The film had beautiful scenes shot in France and Ireland. 

Based on a true story, the film is about three characters who tell their version of events relating to the rape of a French noblewoman, Marguerite de Carrouges. The feud that led to the last judicial duel, permitted by the Parliament of Paris taking place in 1386, is not for the faint hearted.

We are introduced quickly to the characters: Matt Damon as Jean de Carrouges, Jodie Comer as Marguerite de Carrouges, Adam Driver as Jacques Le Gris and Ben Affleck as King Charles VI.   

Its ingeniousness is in the way it retells the story by the husband, the rapist, and the victim. 

Every telling has subtle differences and it is up to you the viewer to decide which story is the truth.

This is Rashomon style of story-telling which was refreshing.

The greatest furore surrounding this film was its dealing of a difficult subject matter. 

More political than it should have been, the topic of rape was handled as delicately as a sledgehammer. One rape scene can be pardoned, but three in one movie was overkill. 

Some of the dialogue seemed so forced and tongue in cheek it was hard not to laugh.  

Without spoiling the plot points, there is lots of gory fighting, lots of social climbing and lots of consensually ambiguous sex.

Best of all, we get to see Affleck doing his impression of Affleck in armour and that alone is worth the admission price. 

Scott offers us a rare insight into a period of time through an interesting lens.

It is all in the detail and we should expect nothing less from the person that brought us classics such as Alien, Gladiator, Thelma & Louise and Blade Runner.

Ridley Scott (2021)

Seen at Kingston Odeon

Share the story

Leave a Reply