Monday, April 04, 2022

The Last Duel (2021)

First impression sucked. 

The first impression and truly worst, ironically, is the star studded cast: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Adam Driver, playing Jean de Carrouges, Pierre d’Alençon, and Jacques Le Gris respectively.



Best friends Matt and Ben are the primary sinners. This movie is their first writing collaboration since Good Will Hunting, the movie which catapulted them to stardom. They got bit parts in movies together; and then they wrote an Oscar winning script together, everyone knows they are friends. 

Ricky Gervais summed it best when in the Golden Globes he introduced Matt Damon as the only person Ben Affleck hasn’t been unfaithful to. It was right on the heels of the sex with the nanny scandal that saw Ben’s marriage taking a nosedive.

So how am I supposed to believe that Ben Affleck is a 14th century French Lord and Matt Damon is the underling, a 14th century French Knight? I’d have to be very young to not think of them as best friends or absolutely star struck to just be happy to see in a movie. 

Ben should have taken the role of Jacques Le Gris, at least. If he did then the movie did not need to sell as much the point that Le Gris and de Carrouges were good friends.

Adam Driver is a good actor, a better performer than the best friends, but as a casting choice he tipped the scales against the movie. First it was the best friends, then it was because the best friends are American, finally Adam Driver, another American sealed the deal. 

I was not able to sink into the medieval story since it is hard not to unsee Americans doing 14th century French cosplay. Now I am curious how many medieval themed movies I liked where lead by Americans. 

Is it a matter of taste, are Americans bad fora medieval flick, or did this movie just have the worse casting imaginable.

Slightly better but still could have improved upon


Another aspect I am not in total agreement is the 3 points of view. The Last Duel is a story about women which you wouldn’t have guessed considering the cast and the story format which divided the movie into 3 points of view. 

Played by Jodie Comer, Marguerite de Carrouges is the point of view that matters. Marguerite is a 14th century French noble woman, wife to Jean de Carrouges played by Matt Damon. 

She was raped by Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver), a former friend of de Carrouges. There is a crime. There are 3 points of view. 

The tendency would be to discern from the 3 stories if the crime was committed or is it false accusation? Could it be a power struggle within the Court of Pierre d’Alençon (Ben Affleck), Liege Lord of both Knights Le Gris and de Carrouges? How tragic is it that former friends ended up killing each other. All of that is beside the point.

The question everyone should ask of the movie is why a woman, a noble no less, does not have the legal identity to go after her own rapist? Audiences would only get to ask the question once they’ve reach point of view number 3.




The best part of the movie, true to its title, is the duel. Even with all the design hiccups of the movie the setup was great, costumes were perfect, the emotions and pay-offs was felt.

The duel had a legal motive which is to prove the innocence of Le Gris. Gotta love medieval reasoning; Marguerite’s life hangs in the fighting skills of her husband and not on her word as a victim, as a human being.

I had thought having seen many medieval duels before, specifically jousting; it would be the most boring part of the movie. A Knight’s Tale made the joust almost a safe as a modern Olympic contact sport. Here the opposite is true. 

The duel scene was energetic and deadly, from the jousting to the swords. You'll never see jousting as Knight's just safely playing again.

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