Ridley Scott’s newest film is a strong piece of art about the importance of the truth and how others perceive that truth.
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.
Sometimes life works in mysterious ways to make sure you don’t fuck yourself over from experiencing some of those moments you will never forget. This is that story. (Skip the next two paragraphs if you want to only know about the show and not how I got there).
So, let’s take a journey back to about five months before December 6th where I come across a Kevin Smith (follow him you fools) twitter post decreeing that he and his heterosexual life mate, Jay Mewes, would be taking America (and possibly parts of Canada) by storm promoting their newest film “Jay & Silent Bob Reboot”. In my nerd hype state at that moment, I purchase one ticket (this will be a mistake, trust me) for $60 and message three of my best friends telling them about it. They seem hyped enough and I, expecting they would be prudent in their purchase to join me, leave the matter in their hands (second mistake). This, in turn, would come to bite me straight in the ass as I had forgotten a key element, that these group of friends are literally the worst at following up on anything (I moved into my house 3 years ago, and none of them have driven the hour and thirty minutes to come see me. Oh well.).
So, here I am holding a ticket to an event to see THE Kevin Smith, one of my personal favorite directors (and king nerd) and just a straight up cool dude. Having watched all his Q&A’s on DVD, I never thought that I would get this chance to see the man in the flesh. Unfortunately, anxiety has a funny way of fucking with you and I told my wife that I didn’t want to go by myself. Reluctantly, I post my ticket on StubHub for $100 (Figured I might as well get $40 for my trouble). Months go by and my ticket stays unsold, so I’ve sold my fate as to being fucked. But, there always appears a light at the end of the tunnel (sometimes it’s a bus, but whatever). Anyways, there had been another ticket that had went up about the same time as mine for the low, low price of $320. As I do not have Kevin Smith money, I said “No thank you”. However, 5 months later that ticket’s price dropped down to $120 (Yes, I know double the original) and luckily for the seller of that particular ticket I was stuck in a Phoenix hotel with nothing to keep me entertained. So, I de-listed my ticket, said “Fuck it” and purchased another ticket to bring my wife along for the ride.
Fast forward this story to the night of the show. After an hour and a half drive, we arrive in the parking lot of The Loft Cinema (btw, I had never been to this movie house) which I doubt had been updated since the 70’s. Neon and the light from the marquee illuminated an old school, silver travel trailer that had been converted into a food and wine truck (We skipped this attraction as I just wanted to find two seats before we were left sitting in opposite ends of the theater. BTW, this show was also sold out. Tucson showed up.) We manage to find seats and patiently waited. I can honestly say, I have never felt more comfortable in a theater of people before. If you couldn’t find a nerd in Tucson, it was because they were all here to support a buddy movie featuring a mute in a trench coat and his blond, loud-mouthed co-star. I was so excited to even have made it this far. About 15 minutes later, our efforts to get to this point would be greeted with a much more trim Kevin Smith, from the one I had seen on those DVD’s, who would go on to express how this was his 53rd sold out show, how this movie was one big personal love fest for Kevin Smith by Kevin Smith as Kevin Smith was the biggest fan of Kevin Smith, and how he thanks everyone for showing up (and probably overpaying) to see him and his friend do the same thing they had been doing for 25 years. He would go on to introduce Mewes who had apparently been pulled from an update of Fortnite, but was ecstatic for this showing as he had family in the audience who had attended. They also went on to show us three, hilarious and creative, audible ads featuring Jay and Silent Bob before they started “Jay & Silent Bob Reboot”. S/O to audible for sponsoring this tour along with our own little podcast. Get a free trial by going to audibletrial.com/thenerdcorps.
I don’t want to be that guy who spoils, so I’ll try and keep my descriptions as simple as possible about the movie. If you’re a fan of any movies about or featuring Jay & Silent Bob (from Clerks to Dogma to Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back) expect to laugh from the beginning to the end of this film. There’s no time for oxygen in some places. Expect for big, celebrity cameos as Smith guilt tripped anyone and everyone he knew to be in the film after his heart attack (he confirmed this himself in the Q&A). Jay Mewes’ performance will give you those nostalgic fits of laughter along with some pretty well formed scenes which will pull on the heart strings. The stand out star in this film is strangely neither of the characters whose name graces the title, but Kevin Smith’s own daughter Harley Quinn Smith. Though Jay and Silent Bob bring the laughs, it is Harley who drives the movie forward and gives Mewes the chance to flex some acting muscles we had rarely seen in previous works. She along with a great supporting cast and possibly the most celebrity cameos to ever be put on the big screen, help to create a feel good, fun time at the movies, where we can properly show our appreciation for Kevin Smith’s creation to honor Kevin Smith. (And yes, Ben Affleck is totally in this movie).
I will just say, if you are lucky enough to make it to the Roadshow, please stay for the Question and Answer segment after the show. Kevin Smith gives honest, heartfelt, and hilarious answers to random questions fans throw out there. I will tell one story from this because I think people need to know how caring these two guys are.
One of the audience members went on to tell Kevin how thankful she was that he made movies and how she and her husband’s first date was to see “Jersey Girl”. But, she also expressed how her husband had passed away three years ago and she had come to the show to show Smith and Mewes support as she knew that’s what her husband would have wanted. She goes on to ask if this was the final movie for Jay and Silent Bob. Kevin Smith proceeds to bring her on stage and give her a hug (Mewes also gets a hug out of it) and then Smith holds her hand the whole time while answering her question. Which, by the way, both a Clerks 3 and Mall Rats 2 are currently going into production. I think this experience shows why Kevin Smith is one of the most beloved directors of our age. He is super appreciative that the “one magic trick” he was capable of with the creation of Clerks has paid off for the last 25 years because of the fans. (If you weren’t aware, Clerks was added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry about a week ago).
To give this movie a rating (as is The Nerd Corps way) would be difficult to say the least. I know the experience of this film would be far different if I had been alone on my couch instead of watching this film in a packed theater full of Jay and Silent Bob fans including the real life versions of Jay and Silent Bob (and honestly, I think this was one of the best dates my wife and I have ever gone on. So, thanks Kevin). So, in lieu of a rating, I will say just to go watch the movie when it drops on DVD, Blu-Ray, and Amazon Prime on January 31, 2020 or before hand if you can make it to one of the stops on the Reboot Roadshow and decide for yourself.
I can safely say that this night will be embedded into my memory until I cease to exist and I am damn glad I decided to go out of my comfort zone and see great people creating great things. YoungYoda out.