Nutshell Review: The Last Duel
PG Score: 8.25/10
The Last Duel was released in theaters on 10/15/21
The Last Duel is a late 14th century tale based on real events brought to life by Director Ridley Scott (Gladiator). The film is a beautifully-crafted story that covers the lives of Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon), his marriage to Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer) and her accusation of rape by Jean’s friend, Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver). The film has a strong supporting cast featuring Ben Affleck (Argo) and Marton Csokas (Kingdom of Heaven), but it is the three main actors that shine brightest in this film.
The Last Duel is broken into three chapters, each focusing on one of the main character's point of view of the events that transpired affecting all their lives, especially Marguerite’s. The most intriguing part of the storytelling is seeing the same events retold from differing perspectives, allowing the moviegoer to get three versions of the truth.
The battles are well-choreographed and drive home the grittiness and gore of medieval warfare. Matt Damon (The Bourne Identity) and Adam Driver (Black KkKlansman) are both squires under the rule of King Charles VI (Alex Lawther) in the last quarter of the 1300s. Both men are shown to be good friends early on, but the differing chapters show the character traits that lead to their falling out over the years. Carrouges is a serious man with little time for humor and the politics of court. An entitled and jealous man, he sees himself as the hero and takes any slight to his honor most grievously. Le Gris, on the other hand, is amiable and well-liked by those in power, especially Count Pierre d’Alencon (Ben Affleck), the Lord both men serve. Le Gris’ friendship with the Count leads to a lot of enmity between the two that strains and eventually ends their relationship.
Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) plays the wife of Carrouges with a subtle brilliance that captures how little say and power women had in late 14th century France. Both men believe they are in love with the charming and beautiful Marguerite but when we get to her chapter of the story, we see it is lust for Le Gris and honor and standing for Carrouges. The Last Duel does a great job depicting how women, including those of standing, were little more than property during this time period. Even when accusing Le Gris of rape Marguerite needs her husband’s support and permission to make the claim for her as she has no rights.
An Epic Historical Drama
The Last Duel hits all the right notes. Realistic fight scenes, excellent acting, great costumes, terrific set pieces with an understated, but well-placed, score only help to elevate the film and theater experience. The story has royalty and lordships, politics and intrigue, all of which are backed by the church that saw women as nothing more than property. All this leads to a showdown in the courts and finally, a duel where the victor is considered truthful in the eyes of God. The Last Duel is a must-see film led by a great cast.