The Last Duel Movie Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

The Last Duel is a historical drama by Ridley Scott, in which the director returns to staging spectacular battles. The events of the tape take place in medieval France, and the main roles played by Matt Damon, Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck and Adam Driver. Interestingly, Damon and Affleck were the initiators of filming – they acted as the main screenwriters of the movie.

The Last Duel movie meaning

Drama genre
Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Matt Damon (Jean de Carrouge), Adam Driver (Jacques Le Gry), Jodie Comer (Marguerite de Carrouge), Ben Affleck (Count Pierre d’Alençon), Harriet Walter (Nicole de Bouchard), Nathaniel Parker (Sir Robert D’Tibouville), Sam Hazeldine (Tomine du Bois), Michael McElhatton (Bernard Latour), Alex Lawther (Charles VI) and others.
20th Century Studios, Pearl Street Films, Scott Free Productions
Year of release 2021
IMDb site

The action takes place in the XIV century. Two riders in armor are preparing for battle, the king of France is watching them with great interest. In front of the monarch is about to happen the last legal duel, which should judge two friends Jean de Carrouge (Matt Damon) and Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver), who have turned into sworn enemies. The reason for everything is a rape suit – Carrouge’s wife, Marguerite (Jodie Comer), claims that Le Gry brutally abused her. The picture is divided into three chapters that show versions of the same events from each character’s point of view.

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote their first screenplay together almost thirty years ago – by 1997 it had turned into the movie “Good Will Hunting” (Good Will Hunting), which won two Academy Awards. Since then, they worked separately, until they became interested in the details of a knight’s tournament, which was described by literary scholar Eric Jaeger in the book “The Last Duel: The True Story of a Battle Trial in Medieval France” (the writer devoted ten years of his life researching the chronicle of events based on military receipts and documents with eyewitness testimony).

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Damon and Affleck used the research material to describe the conflict from the male point of view – that’s how the first two chapters of the movie came about. They considered it wrong to speak on behalf of the main character, so the story of the woman for the third part of the picture was written by screenwriter Nicole Holofcener, known for the drama “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (Can You Ever Forgive Me?).

Рецензия на фильм «Последняя дуэль» / The Last Duel

Thanks to a well-crafted script, they have created an expansive and detailed picture that, contrary to fears, does not wear you out with monotonous repetition. It gradually adds new details, indicating how differently the characters see the same situation (this is similar to the Rasemon effect, which appeared in the films of Akira Kurosawa – in the 1950s, the Japanese director was one of the first to demonstrate the contradictory nature of testimony in which the truth must be found).

Рецензия на фильм «Последняя дуэль» / The Last Duel

The movie is not distorted by the modern moral agenda – it does not contain provocative statements and actions uncharacteristic of the fourteenth century. The tape adheres to historical accuracy, showing the orders and social mores during the Hundred Years’ War, when France was engaged in a prolonged conflict with England: knights who participated in the battles desired lands from the feudal nobility; vassals chose favorites whom they used for their own purposes (we will see this in the storyline of Ben Affleck’s character); disputes over land ownership were settled in the royal court; serious crimes and perjury were punishable by death; an act of violence against a woman was considered a property crime against her husband.

Рецензия на фильм «Последняя дуэль» / The Last Duel

The material covering so many topics could have turned into a drab drama about the suffering Middle Ages, but Ridley Scott was directing the movie, so it’s one of the best films of the year, with spectacular action scenes reminiscent of the greatness of Gladiator. The director returns to the large-scale filming of brutal battles, paying attention to seemingly insignificant details that leave the strongest impression.

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The ringing rumble of weapons and the thudding of hooves, the elaborate dynamics of the crowd, the splashes of blood and water, as well as weapons and shields flying directly into the camera – all done so that the audience felt the effect of presence on the battlefield. To shoot such scenes Ridley Scott used from four to six cameras – they all worked simultaneously, approaching the actors from different angles.

Рецензия на фильм «Последняя дуэль» / The Last Duel

The production of the picture took place in two countries – France and Ireland (because of the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic the shooting was interrupted for several months, after which the creative team continued to work in new realities – in masks and with observance of social distances). Old castles, which have survived to this day, were included in the frame, other locations were slightly embellished with the help of computer graphics.

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Perhaps the only disadvantage of “The Last Duel” is the plot that jumps from year to year in the first chapter of the movie (all the dates appearing on the screen are completely unremarkable). Fortunately, the second chapter clears everything up – the chronology turns out to be not so important, the main attention of the picture is focused on how the characters evaluate their actions in ambiguous circumstances.

Рецензия на фильм «Последняя дуэль» / The Last Duel

Thanks to Ridley Scott’s direction and an excellent cast, in which Jodie Comer and Adam Driver stand out the most, The Last Duel is a strong drama with intense action. The movie brings up crucial topics that are often controversial and keeps the tension up until the finale, where the decisive duel will happen.

 

Pros:
Three versions of the same events; staging of battles; cast; tense finale; material is not distorted by the modern agenda

Minuses:
Piling up of dates in the first chapter

Conclusion:

An interesting historical drama with excellent chivalric action and undying intrigue, in which Ridley Scott shows his directorial skills.

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