The Last Duel

#MeToo in Medieval Times.

When I found out Ben Affleck and Matt Damon finished the script for “The Last Duel” faster than “Good Will Hunting,” I asked if we should be worried about this, considering that fast writing can cause typos. And then we get a bad movie poster, which usually pushes my concerns further. Then I went to see this less-than-3-hour movie, directed by Ridley Scott and co-written by Nicole Holofcener, and I actually surprised it. It tackles on how rape victims, particularly women, deserve to have a voice, which is why #MeToo was instated, and is based on a true story set in the Medieval ages. And I guess it’s true what they say: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Damon plays Jean du Carrouges, a knight in Normandy, who marries the young and wealthy Marguerite (Jodie Comer), makes enemies of both his fellow squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) and the sexist Count Pierre d’Alencon (Affleck) over a piece of land that was promised to him, and is no longer fit to inherit his recently departed father’s title as Captain of Bellême.

But he now has a bigger problem. Marguerite informs him that while he was away to get paid for his battles, Jacques made his way into their home and raped her. Now, he goes to court to set up a joust that will determine who is the honest one. If Jean loses, his wife will suffer dire consequences.

The movie is presented in three chapters, before the big showdown. They share aspects from Jean, Jacques, and Marguerite before and after the rape took place. Jean deals with financial problems, Jacques has fun with Pierre, and Marguerite refuses to be silent about being the victim.

Scott, in his first directorial film since “All the Money in the World,” allows Affleck, Damon, and Holofcener to retell the true story with the right aspects and a certain kind of integrity. Of course, I’ve never heard about this story before, so I can’t defend anything at this point. Sure, there are areas in the script that I can barely follow, but they’re supported by fine performances from Damon, Comer, and Driver, as well as some R-rated material-sex and violence.

Damon delivers as a man trying to make things right with his life, Comer provides radiancy and humanity into her character, and Driver is well-picked as the villain with his Gaston hairstyle and arrogance. Affleck’s performance I’m mixed about, because at times, he’s funny, but in other cases, he can be too silly to be taken seriously. At least, he does a good job with the script here.

“The Last Duel” is beautifully photographed by Dariusz Wolski and edited by Claire Simpson, especially the way the jousting gets violent, the way horses breed, and how the young maiden has to be threatened. The past has been filled with mistreated women, who were depicted as stupid and objects. Today still has to issues sometimes, but mostly, they’re given voices. My mom and grandmother had voices in their times, and I’m proud of them for that. Women are not pieces of meat that men can barbecue and marinate with whatever sauce they want. They’re human beings, and seeing Comer’s Marguerite proving her womanhood is really exhilarating.

Again, I was skeptical about this movie. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, given the circumstances, but once I saw it, I saw past the poster and “faster than “Good Will Hunting” note. This movie is no “Good Will Hunting,” but it is good enough for me.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

Categories: Action, Drama, History

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