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The Last Duel Movie Review

The Last Duel (2021)

Rent The Last Duel on Amazon Video (paid link) // Buy the book (paid link)
Written by: Nicole Holofcener & Ben Affleck & Matt Damon (screenplay by), Eric Jager (based upon the books by)
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck
Rated: R
Watch the trailer

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

It’s incredible, bolstered by seeing the story from three distinct viewpoints. We see the story from the mens’ viewpoint as they see themselves the hero, and then we see a chapter closer to the truth. The format portrays layers of truth through subtle detail and differences. The production is impressive, every scene makes you feel that you truly are seeing the 1300s. The movie culminates in the eponymous duel, an amazing scene built on the movie’s tension and a brutal battle for truth amongst two men consumed by ego.
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This is based on a true story of the last recorded trial by combat in France’s history. This opens with a glimpse of the duel before jumping back in time. Just in the first scene, the production is impressive. The sets and props look completely realistic.

Jodie Comer and Matt Damon play Marguerite and Jean de Carrouges

This is split into chapters. In the first chapter Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) is the focus. He marries Marguerite (Jodie Comer), but doesn’t find favor from the overlord Count Pierre d’Alençon (Ben Affleck), where Jean’s good friend Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) does. Jean consistently feels slighted. We see this from Jean’s point of view, so of course at this point we’re on his side. This does a great job of making me think Pierre dislikes Jean just in small moments, a glance here or a comment there. These would be things Jean read too much into. I can’t help but wonder if Le Gris is an opportunist or we’re just not seeing the whole story. Knowing that Le Gris will have a chapter makes me think we’ll see more to it.

Pierre openly tells Jacques he doesn’t like Jean, and he provides good reasons. It isn’t as petty as we saw from Jean’s side of it. Jacques becomes friends with Pierre, and then a trusted advisor. Jean made decisions that created enemies when he openly opposed Pierre.. While Le Gris gave Jean the benefit of the doubt, Pierre saw it as open hostility. What Jean saw as Pierre and Le Gris actively finding ways to belittle him, dwelling on how to hurt Jean, it was more Pierre disliking him and taking the opportunity to remove Jean from any situation to get away from him.

Ben Affleck and Adam Driver play Pierre d’Alençon and Jacques Le Gris

The details in this lend itself to a rewatch, though the distressing last act makes that tough. At one point when Jean and Jacques reconcile, they both recall themselves as the eloquent one that resolved the conflict. Each man sees themselves as the hero. They’re telling their story, they’re the star, and that’s usually how things play out in real life.

The conflict centers around Marguerite, Jacques, and Jean. Jacques recounts that he was in love with Marguerite. It’s unrequited love, but Jacques is used to getting what he wants. Even if Jacques thought she liked him, he used his rank and privilege to have her. The scene in Marguerite’s bedroom with Jacques mirrors a scene earlier with Jacques and an unnamed woman. This scene isn’t meant to absolve him, but to feed into his delusion. He can’t fathom that a woman wouldn’t want him. His lack of self control put him in the eventual duel. Everything we see of Jacques would lead us to believe this is just another conquest for him despite his claims to the contrary. Jacques resorts to denying everything to save face, but he doesn’t have an answer as to why Marguerite would risk her life and safety by making such an accusation.

Adam Driver and Matt Damon play Jacques Le Gris and Jean de Carrouges

In Marguerite’s account we see Jean differently. He exerts his power over those below him but rankles when Pierre exerts his power of position over Jean. Jean is vain, consumed by his standing, or lack thereof, and stature in society.

This movie looks at how people see themselves compared to how they really are.Marguerite faces much cruelty stemming from her allegation. Justice is left to a duel to death between Jacques and Jean. Men that were once friends are now mortally opposed. Rooting for Carrouges to win would validate Marguerite to the public court, but Carrouges is undertaking this for his own ego and vanity. It’s not about Marguerite. You can’t root for Le Gris as he committed the crime. H was needlessly cruel and completely deluded, desiring a conquest to feed his ego. The least bad path is rooting for Carrouges just to validate Marguerite. The duel is an incredible scene. It’s full of tension and absolutely brutal.

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