The Last Duel
Chapter I: The Film
Before the release of ‘The House of Gucci’, Ridley Scott delivers ‘The Last Duel’ and sets the bar pretty high for his next film this month. Based on a true story ‘The Last Duel’ tells of the happenings between Jean de Carrouges, Jacques Le Gris and Marguerite de Carrouges in France to the end of the 14th century. The atmosphere is pretty gloomy and filthy, just like the Medieval and sometimes similar to ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’, which is not only one of my favourite films but also one of the only ones I regret not having watched them in the cinema when I had the chance.
Another similarity to King Arthur is the fabulous cast. Matt Damon as Jean de Carrouges, Adam Driver as Jacques Le Gris, Jodie Comer as Marguerite de Carrouges, Ben Affleck as Count Pierre d’Alençon and many more from which I wanna name only the two I liked most, Michael McElhatton as Bernard Latour and Marton Csokas as Crespin who I already dug in ‘The Centurion’. Nonetheless, the film is more about Matt Damon, Adam Driver and Jodie Comer who all acted magnificently. Although the story really is about this triangle of characters, Ben Affleck does have a part to play in the film. A part I enjoyed just as much because of Ben as the actor portraying the Count.
The other corner of ‘The Last Duel’ that blew me away was the Soundtrack by Harry Gregson-Williams.
Never over top or lost behind the scenes, the music captured the gritty atmosphere perfectly and brought a touch from the monumental soundtrack from King Arthur with it. Apart from the similarities to Guy Ritchie’s fantasy epos ‘The Last Duel’ ventures the step to bloody brutality which surprised me in the beginning but was welcome to me. Just like in series like ‘Game of Thrones’ I admire it when a film portraits the time where it takes place accurately. ‘The Last Duel’ does that perfectly, the brutality, the gender roles and of course the objectified picture of women. Back in Medieval, it was still like that, you can’t just ignore that fact because we have different gender roles now. Next to these areas where the film scores, it also brings up some social criticism. Sometimes rather subtle, often more obvious.
Chapter II: The Truth
Important to know is that the film is not about the duel, it is about something much more important, the truth. The following duel is however rather about honour, respect, justice and a broken friendship, destroyed through attitudes we know from our daily lives. Jealousy, love and the hunger for influence. Yet, the important factor is the truth. What is the truth? Is there something like an overarching truth? Or does the truth depend on the perspective of the person? In the case of ‘The Last Duel’, there is a definite answer. Noticing that, the film gets a big touch of feminism but in perfect dosage.
The story of Marguerite de Carrouges is moving, especially because the story could easily be transferred into the 21st century. It doesn’t matter that “The Last Duel’ takes place in Medieval, the knights, battles and religion, it’s all irrelevant for the story. It is only around these three characters and their perspectives on the happenings. Apart from that, the plot that was for me just as moving was the breaking friendship between Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris. It is exceedingly sad when a friendship splits up through not just a woman but also another friend with a bad influence. Even sadder is it when attitudes like jealousy or grudge trigger this split up. A split-up that ends in mortal combat which was a glorious action sequence. For those who paid attention, the ending of the fight won’t be a big surprise because it is logical.
Chapter III: Last Words
There have been many compliments for ‘The Last Duel’ from my side, yet it isn’t perfect. With a run time of 2h and 22 minutes, the film is quite long. Combined with the structure of the film, this results in a pacing problem. A point that may not negatively affect everyone. Nevertheless, ‘The Last Duel’ manages to get more exciting with every minute, just like the story.
We need more films like this, not only because I wanna get more King Arthur Vibes but because we need this kind of feminism, one that is not straight into your face and unfair but one that is right. If you are still unsure about watching ‘The Last Duel’, do it. Although this is not a typical Medieval epos and not as easy to watch as common blockbusters, it is worth it.