Acclaimed director has an off knight

Matt Damon in a scene from The Last Duel (CNS/20th Century Studios via EPK TV)

There are many knights but not much shining armour in director Ridley Scott's grim historical drama, The Last Duel. Source: CNS.

With a real-life conflict in 14th-century France serving as a portal through which Scott, along with screenwriters Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Nicole Holofcener, survey varied aspects of medieval European life, the emphasis is on the brutal and the bawdy.

In adapting Eric Jager’s 2004 book, the filmmakers recount the friendship-turned-bitter-rivalry of two warriors: peevish, irritating Jean de Carrouges (Damon) and suave sophisticate Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver).

De Carrouges scores a personal victory when he marries fetching noblewoman Marguerite de Thibouville (Jodie Comer). But he also suffers a number of financial and social setbacks that he ascribes to the machinations of Le Gris.

Unlike de Carrouges, Le Gris has successfully ingratiated himself with the feudal lord they both serve, Count Pierre d’Alençon (Affleck). He’s done so, in part, by sharing in d’Alençon’s vigorously lascivious lifestyle, a fact which Scott depicts both explicitly and with misplaced lightheartedness.

The feud between de Carrouges and Le Gris culminates violently after Marguerite publicly accuses Le Gris of raping her. With d’Alençon only too ready to acquit his boon companion, de Carrouges insists on his right to settle the case via trial by combat, an already outmoded form of justice based on the idea that God would not allow a perjurer to prevail in such a contest, so the victor must have been telling the truth.

Before the ferocious sequence in which this climatic confrontation is portrayed, the movie successively tells the story of the events leading up to it from each of the three principals’ perspectives.

Review by John Mulderig, CNS.

The Last Duel: Starring Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck. Directed by Ridley Scott. Rated MA15+ (Strong themes, violence, sexual violence and coarse language). Running time: 153 minutes. In cinemas now.

FULL REVIEW

The Last Duel (CNS

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