Venice 2021: Ridley Scott’s ‘The Last Duel’ is a touching medieval epic
by Alex Billington
September 12, 2021
“I do not want to be silent!” When I sat down to watch Ridley Scott’s movies The last duel, I did not expect a two and a half hour scattered medieval epic with massive fights and intimate drama abundantly. For some careless reason, I initially expected a little drama about men fighting over a woman who culminated in an entertaining duel between two cheeky bastards. While certainly an entertaining duel, this film is anything but small scale. The last duel is one of two new Ridley Scott-directed film released in 2021, the second creature House of Gucci, and it appeared at the Venice Film Festival in 2021 as a world premiere at the end of the party as an out-of-competition screening. It is not really a festival film, but it entertained anyway. Especially with a playing time of 152 minutes, massive medieval death objects galore and a knights-in-full-armor duel unlike what has been shown on screen before. Will there be divisive reactions? Most likely … Will there be plenty to debate and quarrel about? Definitely. But is it at least a good movie? Yes, it certainly is.
The last duel is one based on a true story of two men fighting over a charge of rape. Based on the book “The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France” by Eric Jager, it is adapted for the screen by filmmaker Nicole Holofcener, who shares a writing credit with actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Everything it shows seems real did Spoon. Matt Damon also plays a role in the film as Jean de Carrouges, a medieval French knight who fights for the crown whenever necessary and returns home to relax for just days before embarking on several missions. Adam Driver plays Jacques LeGris, a suve, overly confident, naughty French man who gets into trouble when he is accused of raping Jean de Carrouges’ wife, Marguerite. Jodie Comer co-star as Marguerite, daughter of a French lord who owns land in Normandy. She is married to Jean and is loyal to him, but catches sight of Jacques. And the rest is history. The only way they can solve this, as the judicial system is controlled by the church and they do not leave much behind, is by fighting in a dirty duel-to-death arranged by the arrogant King Charles VI.
As ridiculous as it sounds, that is a true story and is told in a way that is related to the #MeToo era and how easy it is to just listen to men’s stories. Ridley Scott goes all-in on recreating this dirty, dull medieval, with magnificent and glorious, historically accurate scenography reminiscent of Gladiator or The Kingdom of Heaven. The film is as long as it is because it is divided into three chapters, borrowed from Rashomon to show us the story from Jean’s perspective, Jacques’ perspective and finally Marguerite’s perspective, aptly identified as “the truth” (above all), before ending with a titular duel. He also goes all-in and makes this a very R-rated medieval tale of asshole men and rape. The fights are bloody and brutal, just like the duel is. Before we even get to anything with Marguerite, the first half of the film takes us through numerous battles led by de Carrouges – successes and failures. It’s the kind of movie I’m glad I saw, but do not think I’ll ever see it again. There is only so much medieval violence I can take before I wonder why I entertain how I see men cut and bash other men so they can get more land and collect taxes from all the inhabitants of the said land.
After all the fights are over, though, it’s when The last duel will be really good. The third chapter rules (it’s finally going to point out it’s been trying to come up with all along), though the rest is typical Ridley Scott action movie. This is where the storytelling sharpens into the real truth of this story and what is actually being said about men and women. And it finally gives us a cathartic “hell yes” moment that becomes more and more necessary when there is so rarely any real justice these days. Matt Damon is the best part about the whole movie, I must say, along with Jodie Comer, who keeps his own in the middle of a battlefield full of shitty men. Adam Driver seems wrong (he’s just too lovable to be such an asshole in my opinion) and Ben Affleck is only there to fill a role as yet another asshole. When I saw this movie, I kept thinking that the film production is impressive, but then I reminded myself, uhhh, this is Ridley Scott he definitely knows what he’s doing. I do not even know how he made this last duel so real. But that’s exactly what he’s doing best, and it’s shocking to see.
This is probably going to sound lame, but I used to go to the Renaissance fair as a kid and watch them do the fake “race” with horses. I always thought it was fun. In general, it’s pretty harmless, it’s just a show, and no one’s actually hurt, and it’s not meant to be a serious historical recreation, even though my teenager’s brain thought that was how it was. duellere. In Scotts The last duel, the final duel is the actual complete medieval “holy shit” convincing battle you would expect between two men who fought to the death. It’s INTENSE-like, hold-your-breath, cower-in-fear until it’s all over, intense. I’m not quite sure how they pulled it off. The big fights in Gladiator is glorious, but with 20 years of experience since doing so, it looks like Ridley Scott will be straight better by making action completely believable in a movie. Although the first half of the film is not something I want to see again, this last chapter and duel is something I would like to visit again. Just for the awesome thrilling feeling again. Let them fight…! Just do not let the assholes win.
Alex’s Venice 2021 Rating: 7.5 out of 10
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