The Last Duel is the most recent film from friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck who both acted in, produced and even helped write the film with Director Sir Ridley Scott and distributed by 20th Century Studios under Disney.
The film is based on the 2004 book by author Eric Jager The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France. It is based on a true story taking place in 1386, being the last officially sanctioned “Trial by Combat” by the King of France.
SPOILERS AHEAD. Do not read further if you don’t want to be spoiled by events of the film. The final outcome of the film is not spoiled, however, it’s based on actual events, so we’ve been spoiled for centuries.
The duel was between knight Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and Squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) after Carrouges accused Le Gris for assaulting his wife, Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer), letting God decide who is right.
If Carrouges were to loose his wife would be condemned as a liar and burnt at the stake.
The film lasts 153 minutes, a long runtime for sure, but justifies its length due to its presentation. The film is split into thirds.
Chapter 1 being from the perspective of Carrouges as he marries Marguerite and his way up to becoming a knight. He is friends with Le Gris as the two fought together in combat. However when Carrouges upsets Count Pierre d’Alençon (Ben Affleck) he has all of his birth rights given to Le Gris, making the two rivals.
After an attempt to mend their relationship Carrouges comes home after being away and his wife tells him that Le Gris broke into their home and assaulted her. Carrouges then appeals to the French King to allow for a Trial by Combat.
Chapter 2 is from the perspective of Le Gris. He is close friends with and respects Carrouges, but becomes friends with Count Pierre d’Alençon, as Le Gris is good with managing finances and helps him with his debts.
The Count then awards him with Land that was originally promised to Carrouges. When Carrouges sues The Count then gives Le Gris the position of Captain which was originally meant for Carrouges.
As time moves on Le Gris meets Marguerite and instantly falls for her.
When Carrouges is away in Paris Le Gris does indeed enter the castle and takes Marguerite for himself. When Le Gris is accused he denies forcing himself upon her and accepts the Trial by Combat.
Chapter 3 is from Marguerite’s perspective as she tries to be a loving wife to Carrouges despite his harshness while also trying to not get involved with Le Gris.
The reason why the film is 3 hours long is mostly due to the film being in three different perspectives. The recount from her perspective has certain sequences acted out differently with dialogue, actions and expressions altered depending on who is saying them. From her perspective we see the harsher reality the first two chapters gave us.
Overall I believed the film does a splendid job of showing off Medieval society in 1300s France. Of course you have some inaccuracies here and there such as armor and certain outfits worn by the extras, but you feel like you are back in Medieval times.
Yes, there are elements of sexism towards the female characters in certain sequences, but I don’t view it as a “commentary on toxic masculinity” as some others might say. I see it as a reflection of how society was back then and the injustices that befell upon women at the time.
Yes, I disagree with how women were seen and treated back then, and yes some of the things they said did made me angry, but that is not the fault of modern politics creeping their way it, it is authentically portraying the events which lead to this historical duel between two former friends.
This film is not for those who are easily offended as it is Rated R for a reason. The film does deal with harsh and dark topics, as well as containing gore, profanity, full nudity and sex scenes. If you have a weak stomach or don’t like dark stories then this isn’t for you.
Overall I give this film a 7.5/10. Great acting from the leads, a decent amount of action and I admit the finale has my heart pounding as I clenched my chair anticipating the final outcome. If you are a fan of period dramas this film is for you.
Originally planned to be released on December on 2020 by 20th Century Studios, then January 2021 but was pushed back to October 2021 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The nearly 3 hour film was officially released on October 15th with praise from most critics and audiences, though not as profitable as originally hoped, grossing $10 Million to a $100 Million Budget.
Will you be putting this film on your radar to watch before it leaves theaters?
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