Set in 14th century France, The Last Duel is a medieval drama following a story about the delicate subjects of rape, friendship, honour, and loyalty. The film stars Matt Damon as Jean de Carrouges, a knight who challenges his friend, squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) to a judicial combat after Jean’s wife, Marguerite (Jodie Comer), accuses Le Gris of forcefully having his way with her.
Directed by veteran English filmmaker Ridley Scott, it is based on the 2004 book The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France by Eric Jager. There are many things to like about Scot’s latest epic including the impressive performances of the cast, pace at which the story unfolds, production values, and so on.
The story is told in three chapters; through the perspectives of 3 people, Carrouges, Le Gris, and Maguerite, but the focus never shifts from its title. Of course, most societies today still deny women the benefit of doubt in issues concerning rape and harassment.
At times, the stigmatization and the many backlash that comes with opening-up forces them to keep quiet. But without fair trial and judgement and being found guilty, rape accusations tarnish the image of the accused forever, and that makes the subject such a delicate one.
From a screenplay by Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon The Last Duel amplifies how friendships can sour out, the thin line between love and hate, the corruptible nature of power, and the manipulative, covetous, and pretentious nature of man.
Right from the detailed build-up of the different chapters of the film, nothing is given away surprisingly, as Scott manages to set up one of the most suspenseful and intriguing finales you’ll ever see in a movie. Orgasmic stuff!
God is the ultimate adjudicator, but what a way to implore his unbiased judgement, a combat to the death, when combats are often decided by skill and strength.
However, with Scott at the helm of a Matt Damon and Ben Affleck screenplay, the result was always going to be an Oscar contender, and that’s exactly what The Last Duel is.
Truly, in a long time now, there’s been many great modern dramas but no great medieval ones. Nonetheless, coming from the stable of the man who gave us Gladiator (2000), and Kingdom of Heaven (2005), The Last Duel was always going to be one of the best movies of the year- and it doesn’t disappoint.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Have you seen The Last Duel? You definitely should.