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Review Blog​

Review Blog

THE LAST DUEL review by Gerald Wright

Posted by Gerald Wright on October 12, 2021 at 3:30 AM

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes

Release date: October 15, 2021

Genre: Drama, Historical, and Adaptation

Distributor: 20th Century Studios

MPAA Rating: R

In a screen adaptation of novelist Eric Jager's book The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medievil France, comes a historical tale of a knight Jean de Carrouges who challenges his friend squire Jacques Le Gris to a duel after Carrouges's wife, Marguerite, accuses Le Gris of raping her.

The setting is 1386 France, during the devasting Hundred Years War between France and England, as enemy troops pillage the land, madness haunts the French court, the Great Schism splits the Church, Muslim armies threaten Christendom, and rebellion, treachery, and plague turn the lives into toys of fortune.

At the heart of this true story is Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon), a knight who returns from combat to find his wife Marguerite (Jodie Comer), accusing squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver), her husband's old friend and fellow courtier, of brutally raping her. Jean de Carrouges knows that the claim would be halted if he addressed the Count Pierre d' Alencon (Ben Affleck), who has always been Le Gris' ally in demeaning the De Carrouges family.  Knight de Carrouges takes his cause before the teenage King Charles VI (Alex Lawther), the higheset judge in France.

The backstory of this provocative movie interweaves with an aggressive and treacherous Le Gris, brilliantly portrayed by Adam Driver, who manuevers his way into the graces of the court by befriending Count d' Alencon, in a poorly casted Ben Affleck.  It is a movie showcasing crisp pace battle scenes which opened an exciting and stimulating plot.  The performances between Adam Driver and Matt Damon are powerful and sparks great chemistry.  So does the formidable portrayal of Marguerite by Jodie Comer and Mattt Damon.  The multi-dimensional platform and structure of the film adds many ways to examine the characterization. 

Amid Le Gris's vociferous claims of innocence and doubts about the now pregnant Marguerite's charges (and about the paternity of her child), the deadlocked court decrees a "trial by combat" that leaves her fate, too, in the balance.  For if her and champion loses the duel, she will be put to death as a false accuser.

As in most epic/historical dramas, the period piece cinematography is usually outstanding.  It often covers a large expanse of time set against a vast and elaborate panoramic backdrop.  It is an extravagant production, mythic in nature with lavish costumes, and accompanied with grandeur and spectacle, dramatic scope, and high production values. 

The Last Duel brings to life a colorful, turbulent age and three unforgettable characters caught in a fatal triangle of crime, scandal, and revenge.


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