Berkreviews The Last Duel (2021)

Director Ridley Scott and writers Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon have crafted one incredible film with The Last Duel (2021). Opening with the duel in question, King Charles VI (Alex Lawther) allows Knight Jean de Carrouges (Damon) to duel squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) after Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer) refuses to keep silent after an assault. From the initial impact of the joust, the movie cuts to the first title card reading “Chapter 1”, informing the viewer that this chapter will be the truth according to Jean de Carrouges. Each chapter is written by a different writer, and from the perspective of one of the three aforementioned characters sans the King.

The film does a tremendous job of demonstrating the subjective lens, and how “truth” can shift solely based on one’s perspective. The performances change from each version of the story in subtle ways – and, sometimes, much more overt ways –  to allow us to form our own opinions. I found that by the end of the third chapter and the return of the duel itself, I had never felt more invested in a story’s outcome. My hands flew into the air multiple times out of frustration or celebration as I watched the talent brutally battle. It was an experience that any film lover would relish. 

Of course, the subject matter of the film is extremely triggering – and despite being set in France during the 1300s, it is a very relevant subject matter. The caliber of talent from the three leads, and Ben Affleck as Pierre d’Alençon, only make the subject more intense and real. Driver’s charm only makes his character the more suspect, and the scenes that are at the heart of the conflict become unbelievably hard to watch. Comer deserves so much credit, as her role requires the most change from chapter to chapter. Once it enters Chapter 3 and it is from Marguerite’s perspective, she really gets to shine. 

The Last Duel is a movie that seems to be sadly getting missed by many. While it is hard to recommend anyone suffer through some of the intense scenes, this film delivers expertly if you find yourself up to the subject matter. It is a great allegory for the things we see still in the world today, and it features amazing sequences and incredible performances. The Last Duel earns the Must See rating.

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