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The Last Duel: A successful look at the ugly side of the oft romanticized medieval ages


20th Century Studios

Directed by Ridley Scott

Stars: Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck & Harriet Walter


Ridley Scott does something that we don’t often see with the medieval period of times, oft portrayed as chivalrous and heroic- the age of knights, kings, and squires. Scott rather takes all that the public knows about these supposedly heroic characters, and throws it in the trash, rather brazenly showing it for the toxic masculinity pit and sexist time period that it truly was. Using an actual historical case and two historical characters known as Jacque le Gris and Jean de Carrouges- the screenplay and Scott opts to show neither in a positive light rather showing that for very different reasons both men were trash. Rather, the only character within this cess pool of terrible humans that is pure and good, is that of Jodie Comer’s Marguerite de Thibouville whose life has been turned upside down because of these two men and the time period they are a part of.


King Charles VI declares that Knight Jean de Carrouges settle his dispute with his squire by challenging him to a duel.

This story very much differentiates from others of the time period. This is not a romance film about a Knight sweeping a princess off her feet, nor is this a war movie with brothers in army’s walking and dying shoulder to shoulder for a cause. Rather this story is a drama, and an introspective of the damaging past that we all have come from. This story shines the light on the ugliness of humanity, by showing in full light one, if not the most egregious of acts that one can do to another human being. Yet it’s the reactions of the public, both of nobility and of the common class of this time period to what had happened- that makes it even more disgusting. It’s the way that Comer’s character was faulted in life yet doubted by all, and seen less of a victim than her husband who didn't experience the atrocity first hand. It’s a powerful screenplay that builds a pit in ones stomach and makes one wonder has that much changed to this date? Sure we have come so far with the Me Too movement and far more awareness, but we still see a public that so very much questions the victim much the way that Marguerite is questioned for what happened to her.


The story is told in three parts, we get both the men’s perspective before finally being told the perspective of Lady Marguerite. Its a great choice in editing because we get to see the unreliable narrator perspective from both Carrouges and le Gris. Both men’s egos and pride paint themselves as the innocent one and the right one, yet both men’s perspectives are obliterated when we finally get to see it from the Lady’s perspective. Which Scott boldly exclaims to be the true one. It’s a fun piece of filmmaking with this decision because you pick up on small changes to key conversations as both men’s stories are laid out in front of us. All the while leading upto the third part where we finally see what exactly is the truth and on what parts have the men fabricated their own tales. When the violent act itself happens it truly will shock audiences to see le Gris perspective on what happens and the justification process that the character uses to justify his stance on what occurred.


The acting is pretty solid. Both Adam Driver and Matt Damon do a well enough job at portraying our two French trash bin humans. While Ben Affleck dawning near bleach blonde hair as Count Pierre d’Alençon the good friend of Drivers le Gris and foe of Damon’s Carrouges, absolutely steals the spotlight whenever he is on screen. He’s such trash, but he’s of nobility and therefore more a royal piece of trash that knows he can escape any issues he creates. He has such strong chemistry with our two leads and their back and forths carry so much magnetism. This is Jodie Comer’s film though, just as it’s Marguerites story to truly tell, this is Comers film to steal. She carries all the emotion needed to lay an impact, and the performance she gives through the atrocities her character goes through is bound to be one of the strongest for the entire year. Her character has all this happen and chooses to be brave and present the crimes forward despite knowing how backward the society is, Comer is able to portray such strength even through the brokeness of her characters spirit and it will be a travesty if she isn’t some of the Awards conversation this season.


The Last Duel comes to Disney+ on December 3rd, and if you’re okay with watching through some graphic sexual violence including some rather vivid rape scenes then this is a must watch film. It’s messaging is important and it will ring through everyone about how messed society is, and how far we still have to go to make up for the countless generations that were impacted by the worst of humanity.


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