The Last Duel, 5*****
20th Century Studios
Running Time: 153 Minutes
Review: Matthew Alicoon, Tuesday October 19th 2021
Based on true events, The Last Duel is about one of the last judiciary duels in France and it follows Jean De Carrouges (Matt Damon) a knight who challenges his friend Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) to a duel after Carrouges wife Marguerite (Jodie Comer) claims she has been raped.
The story is told in the same way as the 1950 film Rashomon where we see the same story but from three different characters’ perspectives. This provided a unique stance to the film, as between the perspectives there were subtle details but they really packed a punch when you saw the differences in each story. The attention to detail was superb and it adds to the immersion of the story. It feels quite a playful story type and it would be interesting to see this used further, as it is not a conventional way of telling a true story. At times the film can be heavily uncomfortable to watch but it did not feel like it held back. Through Sir Ridley Scott’s masterful direction this felt an impactful yet epic historical drama in terms of the scope, as the battle sequences are incredibly well filmed.
It was unbelievable to see Matt Damon and Ben Affleck reunited for the first time since Good Will Hunting, as it is hard to believe it has been that long. However, it was great to see them collaborating again on what is such an important film. The writing of the film has so much fluidity and bringing on Nicole Holofcener to write Marguerite’s perspective was interesting. There was not a lot of detail from Marguerite in the book but here her version of the truth felt so accurate and authentic, so Nicole added an extra layer of depth to the film, as it not only showed the brutality of what Marguerite was up against but as a viewer you have more admiration for Marguerite’s bravery of having the courage to speak out for what happened to her.
The film is an acting masterclass too. It is such a remarkable ensemble in the film. Matt Damon gets lost in his character that you forget you were watching him at times, so it was a very seamless transition. Adam Driver did some uncomfortable things in the film but how he got into that headspace as an actor is extraordinary, as there are very dark things affiliated with his character. However, the standout in the film is Jodie Comer who portrays the despair and helpfulness so powerfully and emotionally. At times just looking at Jodie’s facial expressions they said so much and it was such a committed performance. Hopefully this lands Jodie Comer a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the Academy Awards.
Overall, The Last Duel is such an underrated gem. It is nice that Cinema as a medium had the power to help inform and tell us about this important historical event that we possibly did not know much about.
Matt Damon as Sir Jean de Carrouges
Adam Driver as Jacques Le Gris
Jodie Comer as Marguerite de Carrouges
Ben Affleck as Count Pierre d’Alençon