Ridley Scott delivers another epic, this time a medieval affair that showcases some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, where friends becomes enemies and relationships are pushed to the brink.
King Charles VI declares that Knight Jean de Carrouges settle his dispute with his squire by challenging him to a duel.
If you were to tell me a movie with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Adam Driver, a movie that was directed by Ridley Scott, would be a complete and utter box-office bomb, I would have called you crazy. The Last Duel suffers from only one thing, being a real film. We live in a world now, where every movie that average movie-goer sees, has to do with Superheroes or is already a large existing IP of some sorts. Even myself, I found it weird to sit down and watch a flick that didn’t have any larger stakes at hand, that wasn’t going to be apart of any larger than life expanded universe and I’ll tell you this, it was lovely.
This is an adult movie, it deals with trauma, rape and the consequences of such evil behaviour. How Ridley Scott dives into this material is through the perspective of our three main characters. Matt Damon plays Jean de Carrouges and he is a noble knight and one hell of a warrior, who just wants to be respected, all while trying to be remembered and have his name passed on throughout the generations. His chapter is first and it tells the events leading up to the tragedy that falls upon his wife. This is a slow burn, but we do get blips of action and when it happens it’s really great. It’s brutal and dirty and looks exhausting as I’m sure combat was back in the 1300’s. The longest of the three chapters of the story, it dives deep in to Carrouges awful luck, whether it’s money, his family or not getting the attention or respect that he rightfully deserved.
His friend, well at the beginning of this story, Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) is a fellow Squire, that is almost the polar opposite of Carrouges. He is considered handsome, he has it all, and most importantly he is well respected throughout France. Driver plays him well, the relationship between these two men is strong, but ultimately jealously and bitterness threatens their relationship and is the demise of their tenured friendship. Le Gris has it all, money, woman and respect, so when he sees something he wants, he goes after it and that’s exactly what he does and it becomes his downfall. The second chapter is strong, it showcases Ben Affleck’s Pierre d’Alecnon who is a powerful man and makes Le Gris essentially his right hand man. Affleck is brilliant here, playing a rambunctious, horned up man who loves woman and places his trust in all the wrong people. Driver and Affleck are having the time of their lives all while making Carrouges feel small and unimportant. Taking land that is rightfully his away from him, and not appreciating the amount of blood he is shedding for their rightful King. In the end the thing Le Gris wants most in his life, becomes is ultimate demise as he finds out with unlimited power does not mean life does not have consequences.
In the third and final chapter we get the point of view of Carrouges wife Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer). The tragic victim of it all. We relive her horror twice in the movie, and through her eyes and her perspective it’s even more disheartening and spine-numbing. She’s unlike most woman at this time, educated, loyal can speak multiple languages. She has a heart of gold, who is loyal to her husband and just wants to start a family before it is too late. She doesn’t gain the respect of Jean’s mother, who is almost at fault for what occurs to her, because like most woman of that era, things happen and you should just deal with it. She stands up for herself, without anyone thinking she is in the right. So when Jean comes to her aid and honour both of their lives are at stake when Carrouges and Le Gris fight to the death in the duel. If her husband loses that means she was lying and must be burned alive because that is “the will of god.” She and Jean want justice and to finally put their demons at rest, which culminates in one hell of a fight.
Performances across the board are fantastic, from heartbreaking to hilarious, again Affleck is all over the place in this movie and it’s great to see him spread his wings and fly again. Beautiful cinematography with a chilling score. Some of the scenes looked like they were exhausting to shoot, all of the battle stuff and it’s great to see a movie look like a real life movie, instead of the green screen treatment a lot of movies get these days. Shot on location, with big sets and tons of extra’s it was simply refreshing.
The movie can drag a little bit, but it’s enough meat on the bone to keep you engaged the entire time and it sucks a movie like this crashed and burned at the box-office, but i think it will still be an awards contender. Support movies like this please and thank you.
The Last Duel – 73/100