Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel features the story of… well, the last judicially recognized duel, or trial by combat in France on 29 December 1386. The duel was between Sir Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon), and Jacques le Gris (Adam Driver), after Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer), accuses le Gris of rape.
The massive 2-hour 32-minute film is broken up into three chapters, The Truth According to Sir Jean de Carrouges, the Truth According to Jacques le Gris, and finally, the actual Truth According to Marguerite. Chapter One is the longest, focusing on Carrouges’ point-of-view, giving you background on his friendship with le Gris, the contentious relationship with his liege, Pierre d’Alençon (Ben Affleck), his various trips to battle, and his relationship with his wife, Marguerite. When the film moves on to Chapter Two, you realize that you’re going to have to watch the same scenes again from a slightly different angle. Le Gris’ chapter is full of general debauchery with d’Alençon, and courtly love. The third chapter is the shortest and shows the events through Marguerite’s eyes.
This was an interesting and effective storytelling method. The most boring chapter was Carrouges’. You may think, wow, the guy really supported his wife, so revolutionary for the time. However, it was not actually the case, as was made clear in the third chapter. Rape wasn’t considered a crime against the woman at the time, but it was more of a property dispute with the husband.
Now the sore spots, two things ruined the viewing experience. Firstly, the script was off. There were very odd vocabulary choices. It was distracting and bothered me so much, I looked up the etymology of the word f*ck to verify that it was not used at the time.
The second thing that really hurt the film was the casting. Some actors cannot pull off period film roles. There wasn’t just one actor, there were three of them. Damon, Affleck, and Driver do not work in period films, their faces are too modern, and frankly, the acting was highly questionable. I have no idea what accents they were attempting, but they were all awful. Driver was the least offensive to me because he’s a better actor than Damon and Affleck combined. Those three were incredibly weird choices. Damon and Affleck were almost the reason I didn’t see the film. Had they cast three different actors, there’s a chance I’d have given it 5 stars.
This was a really hard one to rate because while I did like it, the script and casting really ruined it. I’m also not exactly sure who this film was for? It had the violence and debauchery, but then it was ultimately the story of a rape. I would probably skip this in theatres and wait until it shows up on a streaming service.
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I’m a Data Analyst, from the land of Matthew McConaughey. I’m an avid movie-goer and love seeing films in theaters. My most recent favorite films are Good Time, Only Lovers Left Alive, TENET, and England is Mine. When I’m not at the movies, I’m either reading or watching obscene amount of true crime and historical documentaries.