Drama films

The Last Duel review – the handling of the sword without subtlety | Drama films

RIdley Scott’s latest epic plays out as a reinvention clad in the armor of Rashomon crossed with a remake of # MeToo-inflected Straw dogs. Inspired by author Eric Jager’s 2004 account of the last officially recognized judicial duel in France, in which God was trustworthy to choose the just winner, it is actually a medieval drama about rape and revenge told in three chapters from three different perspectives, all leading to one blood. battle soaked. Oddly enough, screenwriting duties were split between the film’s main characters, with co-stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (who won an Oscar for their Goodwill hunting script) dealing with the male versions of this story while Nicole Holofcener lends “my point of view as a woman” to bring a “different voice” to the table.

We open in Paris in 1386, with shots of Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer) dressed ritually in black as her husband, Jean (Matt Damon), and his opponent, Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver), are laced in a chainmail chain mail and armor. From there, we return to the Battle of Limoges, revisiting three times the events leading up to the titular duel, telling “the truth according to” each storyteller. The first is John, who bravely saves Jacques’s life to be betrayed when his former friend uses his influence with Count Pierre d’Alençon (Affleck) to steal John’s land and inheritance, and from there to “take my woman in a criminal and carnal way “, so that John asks for reparation in a duel. Then comes the version of Jacques, in which Jean grudgingly claims land over which he has no right, and Marguerite, whose diminished dowry had harmed her sad husband, offers only “the usual protests” to his advances. (“Because she is a Lady“), which were” not against his will “.

Finally – and in a more engaging way – we have Marguerite’s story, a quite more revealing version in which Jean and Jacques treat women as movable property, reduced by law and custom to the status of property. Equine mount scenes are heavily juxtaposed with Jean’s unsuccessful attempts to father an heir (“I hope your ‘little death’ was memorable and productive,” he says as he passed), while the visions Jacques’ narcissistic flirtatious looks are revealed to be mere diplomatic smiles. This time, it is the malignancy of a world in which only men have power that is in the foreground, presaging a confrontation as absurd as brutal, leaving Marguerite in danger of being burned alive for the crime of daring. speak.

To approach the tonal changes of this story without insensitive missteps requires a great deal of subtlety – not Scott’s strong suit. While Thelma and Louise brought visual splendor to Callie Khouri’s Oscar-winning screenplay about two women finding their own way following sexual assault, The last duel instead, it gets bogged down in the mud and blood of its period background – a symphony of reverse violence and pestilential weather. From fire-lit interiors to rural exteriors, everything is shrouded in darkness, with random poultry beats. The taverns ring with the clash of mugs while pythony minstrels hide in the shadows. There are even softcore lesbian dates in the background to keep the Game Of Thrones happy fans.

Adam Driver, Matt Damon and the mule in The Last Duel. Photograph: Patrick Redmond / AP

A mixed accent salad is served with a non-specific European garnish; sometimes, Jacques seems to have committed a crime punishable by having his vowels stretched on a rack until death. As for the hairstyles, it’s a real battle of groups, with Driver’s rock star mane resembling that of an 80s goth, the blonde whip and Affleck’s goatee reminiscent of a Teutonic hit producer. eurodisco, and Damon grappling with a crime-countermule of nature that screams mid-1970s Midland heavy metal.

Somewhere in the midst of all this chaos are some shrewd observations about class, gender, and justice. When you tell Jacques to “deny, deny, deny” because crowds have no capacity for nuance, that touches a sensitive point. Yet despite a spirited performance from Comer and an impressive list of supporting tricks (including a stolen Harriet Walter scene as Jean’s faded mother, Nicole), The last duel tends to mirror his central battle’s attempts to solve complex issues with the show’s blunt tool that thrills the scum.