‘The Last Duel’: Does The Truth Set You Free?

Ridley Scott’s newest film is a strong piece of art about the importance of the truth and how others perceive that truth.

CREDIT: 20th Century Studios

4/5

Ridley Scott’s latest film has been released and it is definitely for better or worse making its rounds at the box office. When the film was first announced, audiences were a bit apprehensive given the subject matter of sexual assault. I will admit that I was one of those who was apprehensive but the trailer really sold me on the film. I was able to go watch this at my local theatre on a big screen with some tasty popcorn. Did The Last Duel satisfy or did it disappoint?

The Last Duel is directed by Sir Ridley Scott, written by Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon as it adapts The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France by Eric Jager. The film stars Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, and Ben Affleck in a story set in Medieval France as Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) challenge Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) to a duel after Le Gris rapes Carrouges’s wife, Marguerite (Jodie Comer). The duel comes into play because of Le Gris’s close bond with Count Pierre d’Alençon played by Ben Affleck. Scott returns to work with his longtime cinematographer Dariusz Wolski who excels in the visual component of the film. The film has been underperforming at the box office as it competes against its budget of 100 million.

The Last Duel works better than expected and that is truly the most surprising aspect of this interesting structure that calls back to films like Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon. Each chapter has a writer but most importantly, each chapter has a perception of the story and how those in the story are presented. The performances are strong but it is the incredible Jodie Comer who provides us with one of the best performances of the year. Comer carries her character with such poise and nuance that you can feel radiating off the screen. This is not to say that Damon and Driver do not try their best along with Affleck’s odd performance as the Count. The writing is one of its strengths but the pace is a bit dragged in chapter two before we get to the third chapter. Even though the pace is not the best and you definitely feel every minute of this runtime the writing is strong enough to keep us enthralled.

I am sure that Jodie Comer will receive the best actress nomination along with those who worked on the costume and production design of the film. We never know where awards season will go but Comer is definitely a front runner. Do not let the underperformance at the box office steer you away from watching, The Last Duel carefully and respectfully discusses the sexism and presence of rape culture that dates back to Medieval times. We are left with the reminder that even if the victim wins the trial they still carry the weight of the trauma with them long after.

Watch The Last Duel in theatres and there are no words yet about a VOD release yet.

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