Directed by Ridley Scott (The Martian; Black Hawk Down; Thelma & Louise; Gladiator; Alien; Blade Runner; American Gangster; Hannibal) and starring Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting; The Martian; Invictus; Manchester by the Sea; Le Mans '66; Jason Bourne; Interstellar; The Bourne Identity; The Talented Mr. Ripley), Adam Driver (Marriage Story; BlacKkKlansman; Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker; Inside Llewyn Davis), Jodie Comer (Free Guy; Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker; Doctor Foster (TV Series); Killing Eve (TV Series)), Ben Affleck (Argo; Good Will Hunting; Gone Girl; The Accountant; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) and Alex Lawther (The Imitation Game; Goodbye Christopher Robin; Old Boys; The French Dispatch).
Historical drama; 152 mins; 16+
Set in the 14th century, this historical drama is based on a true story around the last duel during the reign of King Charles VI (Alex Lawther).
Sir Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) were close friends and fought together at Limoges, but they had drifted apart. Jacques Le Gris had won the trust of Pierre d'Alençon (Ben Affleck) and collected his tenant's dues. Among them was the father of Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer) who reluctantly gave up some land as part-payment; Marguerite later married Jean de Carrouges who had understood from her father that he dowry included that piece of land. A man of honour, Jean de Carrouges brought a court case against Pierre d'Alençon, therefore alienating him against the elite. Upon the death of Jean de Carrouges' father, Pierre d'Alençon also inflamed the situation by giving Jacques Le Gris the captaincy which Jean's father had held and which he felt should have passed to him. Then, when Jean de Carrouges was in Paris, appealing his case to the king, Jacques Le Gris knew that Marguerite was alone and visited and raped her. Jean returned to the courts and, in front of the king, challenged Jacques Le Gris to a duel which took the form of a joust.
This, in essence, is the storyline, well most of it anyway. How it is portrayed on screen is by three different perspectives, of Jean, of Jacques and of Marguerite who, at that time, was treated as the property of her husband. While all three told basically the same story with subtle differences, the courts were not impartial so Jean felt that his honour (and that of Marguerite) could only be settled by a duel, with the winner being the victor, and telling the truth in God's eyes.
A fascinating insight into the lives of people in the Middle Ages in Europe, particularly how estates were handed out, taxes collected and grievances settled, with a tremendous, raw fight scene in the penultimate scene.
There are quite a few "long" films in the cinemas at present, at around two and a half hours duration: time flies watching The Last Duel, with most of the story presented in the first of the three perspectives, but with the other two adding context and viewpoints. Some of the battle scenes are violent and bloody and the overhead shots of towns, and Paris in particular, are fascinating in looking back through hundreds of years of history.
While the acting is solid on all fronts, it is definitely the sum of the parts that makes this film, from Ridley Scott's direction to the storytelling, the sets and costumes.
Well worth a view. Currently screening at Kinepolis-Kirchberg.