'The Last Duel' review: Ridley Scott presents a haunting tale of two entitled men and a spirited woman 

WION Web Team
New DelhiWritten By: Shomini SenUpdated: Oct 23, 2021, 12:03 PM IST


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Ridley Scott's latest film 'The Last Duel' once again throws light to the #MeToo movement and how a woman's truth is always secondary to a man's honour and pride. 

Ridley Scott's latest film 'The Last Duel' is hauntingly real. And even though the film is set in the 14th century, the plot is relatable and once again throws light to the #MeToo movement and how a woman's truth is always secondary to a man's honour and pride. 

Based on Eric Jagger's book by the same name, the film reunites Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as writers for the first time since their Oscar-winning film 'Good Will Hunting'. Along with writer Nicole Holofciner, Affleck and Damon narrate a story from three different perspectives. 

Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) are to get into a duel after Carrogues' wife Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer) alleges that she has been raped by Le Gris. 

The story begins with Carrouges' side of the story. Damon plays an obnoxious, foolish, illiterate man who knows only to fight. His marriage to Marguerite is also on the pretext to increase his hold over a particular area and produce an heir for his family. 

Le Gris, his friend and now enemy, is strikingly different. Born poor, Le Gris is knowledgable, well-versed, good looking and charming. He has a way with the ladies and is also Pierre's (Ben Affleck) favourite who as the King's cousin runs a certain part of the kingdom. Le Gris, in his version of the story, denies the rape and claims that Marguerite is willing let him have her after the initial bit of reluctance- which according to him is normal as women play hard to get. 

The third version- the most haunting and achingly truthful is that of Marguerite's story who has a bright, learned woman who is trapped due to the societal norms and suffers silently until she is raped and decides to speak up but at the cost of losing everything in her life. She has always been controlled by the men in her life- her father and husband- who treat her as a commodity and only as a means to produce an heir for the honourable family. 

Carrouges, who has been nursing a grudge against Le Gris already, goes to the King to seek justice for the rape. The king decides to first hold a trial, which leads to uncomfortable questions in court particularly for Marguerite and then get the two men to fight each other. The one who wins will be the chosen one and his truth will be considered as the ultimate one. 

Since the film presents three different perspectives of the same incidents, there is a certain amount of repetition. Set in a cold, grey France, the story is grim yet engaging with a tight screenplay. It also helps that the film has a stellar cast who enhance the viewing experience to a great level. 

Damon plays the ignorant, brash Carrouges with ease. He is awkward, irrational and laughed upon by his peers. He tones down his appearance to look his part- that of a man who has no emotions and only understands the language of power and keeps complaining about how he has been wronged by people. 

Actress Jodie Comer, who plays Marguerite de Carrouges, emotes through her eyes. With limited lines dedicated to her, Comer's character is a tough one to play. But deft writing and her credible performance elevates the character- who despite limited dialogues, speaks volumes of her woes and troubles. Comer's performance is restraint - just what is required for her part. 

The show stealer is Adam Driver who plays the charming, manupulative and slightly guilty Le Gris with great conviction. You can't take your eyes of Driver, who in the recent past, has amanged to shine in almost all his films. You know he is wrong, but you find yourself drawn to his character the most. 

The film narrates a story of rape and how fighting for women's honour was never a priority for men. The concept of concent was not prevalent either- issues that are still discussed widely in the era of the global #MeToo movement. The duel took place between the two men to protect their honour and dignity and not of the man. While the film is about the two men, the detailed screenplay and skilled camera by Dariusz Wolski often lingers towards the women- who silently portray the years of suffering or shock or empathy for their fellow sisters. And these moments are the highlight of 'The Last Duel'  making Ridley Scott's period drama effective.