Last Duel, The (2021)

Truth is the weakest currency in Ridley Scott’s generally solid stab at a Rashomon-esque historical epic set in medieval France during the Hundred Years’ War. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review #2,282

Dir. Ridley Scott
2021 | USA/UK | Drama/History | 153 mins | 2.39:1 | English
R21 (passed clean) for strong violence including sexual assault, sexual content, some graphic nudity, and language

Cast: Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck, Harriet Walter
Plot: King Charles VI declares that Knight Jean de Carrouges settle his dispute with his squire by challenging him to a duel.
Awards: Official Selection (Venice)
Distributor: Disney

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Women’s Voice; Power of Men
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Normal
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream

Viewed: In Theatres – Shaw PLQ
Spoilers: No

In some way a return to form—and a return to the medieval epic genre that he helped revitalised at the turn of the century with Gladiator (2000), and subsequently the likes of Kingdom of Heaven (2005) and Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)—Ridley Scott’s effortless The Last Duel is not one, but two films the veteran Hollywood filmmaker will be releasing this year. 

The other is the Adam Driver-Lady Gaga vehicle, House of Gucci. Driver is in The Last Duel as well in what has been a prolific year for the charismatic actor, with Annette being the other high-profile work. 

Here, he stars as Jacques Le Gris opposite Matt Damon’s Sir Jean de Carrouges, his friend-turned-adversary as their characters deal with a central incident—the rape of Sir Jean’s wife (played by Jodie Comer in an exceptional performance)—as lies threaten to tear everybody apart. 

“The truth does not matter, there is only the power of men.”

Truth is indeed the weakest currency in Scott’s generally solid stab at a Rashomon-esque historical drama set in France during the brutal Hundred Years’ War.  There are violent battle scenes, particularly in the first act, but Scott is more interested in the multiple perspectives that give The Last Duel that bit of intellectual depth uncommonly seen in more mainstream movies. 

Despite being set centuries ago, the film is obviously a nod to women who refused to be silenced by the power of men, though it may be a tad too far-fetched to label Scott’s work as feminist. 

With the unexpectedly poor US box-office result, which doesn’t inspire market confidence, The Last Duel could be one of the last of its kind for a long while.  Which is a pity because this is not at all a bad film.

Grade: B+



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