The Last Duel

September 19, 202180/1006 min
Jodie Comer, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Adam Driver
Written by
Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon
Directed by
Ridley Scott
Run Time. 2h 32min
Release Date October 15th, 2021
Overall Score
Rating Summary

In 1977 Ridley Scott directed his first feature film with The Duellists,a film about two French noblemen who fought a series of duels over time. Now some 44 years later, Scott is back for another duel, The Last Duel to be the exact, or what is known historically as the last legally sanctioned duel to be fought in France. So what would make two men want to fight to the death, well that is the story that is about to be told.

It’s the late 14th century and Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) are off fighting a war for King and country. You would think these two brothers in arms would be two peas in a pod, but the film opens with the two starting a duel to the death, so something went wrong. Based on real events, the film tells the story of the last judicial duel in France, also called “Judgement of God”, and about the two friends who became fierce rivals. Jean de Carrouges is a respected knight,  who is brave and shows great skill on the battle field, while Le Gris is a squire whose intelligence and debonair attitude gets him plenty of admiration. Things start to happen that causes a tension to build between the two, but it is after a visit to de Carrouges wife, Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer), by Le Gris that is unannounced, sets the stage for the duel to happen. The Last Duel is the first film Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have written together since their Oscar winning screenplay for Good Will Hunting. This time though they brought in Nicole Holofcener to write the voice of Marguerite, because her story was not one that should be told by a man. The story unfolds through different perspectives much like the 1950 Kurosawa classic Rashomon and while you might question which of the men’s account is the real truth, the story leaves no doubt what it believes. While it all may start slow and somewhat detached, they manage to get to a point of spectator, mostly thanks to the cast that really puts on a show.

With the stories being different, each character shows certain nuances of great value that add up to substantial differences within the narrative. It is Damon though whose style changes the most from the different viewpoints, but it is Comer who will leave the biggest impression on you with a performance that will be talked about during awards time. With all the talk about acting, including a blonde hair scene stealing Affleck as Count Pierre d’Alencon, doing his best Hugh Heffner impersonation, it is easy to  forget about Scott, who makes it look so easy. No one does historical dramas like Scott and this film looks beautiful, even sporting some action scenes that have not been seen in film for what feels like way too long. This is a beautiful display of technical filmmaking and reminds us that when Scott does stop making movies, we are going to miss this. Don’t let the film’s runtime give you pause, as The Last Duel  is an epic film in all its grandeur, that is acted at the top of its game, and one that Sir Ridley Scott called one of his best films, do you need any other reason to see this?

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