Now that movies are open in Sydney we are going (semi) regularly again which has been super nice 🥰. Last weekend we saw Ridley Scott’s ‘The Last Duel’.
In summary, it’s 1386 France and the noble lady Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer) accuses her husband’s friend Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) of raping her. Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) challenges Le Gris to a duel to the death to determine if he is guilty of the crime.
🍿 The film uses a clever narrative structure told from three different points of view — from Jean, Le Gris and Marguerite (which is also subtitled as ‘The Truth’). The three chapters show three versions of the events leading up to the duel.
Jean thinks he’s more noble and smarter and much more of a feminist than he actually is. He also has a list of growing grievances and everyone is mean to him.
Le Gris sees himself as more worthy of Marguerite’s love and affection because they both can read. He sees rival Jean as childish and litigious and is also very mean to him.
🍿The final version of the story, and the most compelling, follows Marguerite’s perspective. Jean is much less supportive in this chapter than in his own, turning violent after Marguerite tells him of her rape. Le Gris severely misunderstands Marguerite’s interactions as flirtations (welp) and uses that to justify his heinous actions. Despite the threat of burning at the stake should her husband lose the duel, Marguerite resolves to tell the truth.
🍿 For me, the rape scenes were brutal and gratuitous — shown twice, undermining Marguerite’s story. Still, the film is a powerful one, and one that plays into modern conversations surrounding #MeToo, rape culture and victim blaming. As per Variety, Comer says it best;
“It’s pretty evident that we’ve come so far in so many ways, and yet in many we haven’t learned anything, especially in regards to women experiencing sexual assault and women still fighting for autonomy over their bodies. It’s kind of depressing when you go, ‘Oh gosh, it still feels like we have another 600 years to go.’ Hopefully that really isn’t the case…It really holds a mirror up to society.”
Marguerite is the hero and heart of this story and her choices leading to the last duel are empowering and super refreshing!!!
🍿 The movie is propelled along with a cast of secondary characters, including Ben Affleck’s Pierre d’Alençon, a bottle blonde hedonist who enjoys a way too comfortable bromance with Le Gris (read: orgies). It’s unsettling because d’Alençon holds enough power in his sticky party hands to destroy a woman’s life.
Other notable characters include the petty back-stabbing friend Marie (Tallulah Haddon) who thinks Marguerite is guilty because she once called Le Gris ‘handsome’, and a spoiled milk-sop child King (Alex Lawther) who is probably enjoying all the chaos a little bit too much.
Even with three versions of a story, the thing everyone definitely agrees on is the fact that Matt Damon’s mullet mane is something to behold for 2.5 hours. If that hasn’t convinced you; seeing Affleck’s bleach blonde friar tuck haircut is also worth the price of admission alone.
Thanks for reading, if you’ve seen this film, let me know what you think!
Warmest virtual regards
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