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The Last Duel

This is not a movie that I would have necessarily placed on my priority list; I didn’t even know until I started watching it that it is based on a true story of the last sanctioned duel in France. The setting is the 100-Years War. The film centers on three people: Jean De Carrouges (Matt Damon), a knight known for his bravery and ferocity in battle; Jacques LeGris (Adam Driver), who in the beginning was a close friend of De Carrouges but becomes his most bitter enemy; and Margerite de Carrouges, wife of de Carrouges who accuses LeGris of raping her while her husband was away. The story is fascinating. Affleck, who plays a rather flamboyant Perre d’Alencon, and Damon wrote the screenplay; it presents the story in three perspectives, or what they call “the truth as told by” each of the three leads. The repeating of the same story from the three perspectives turns out to be a great way to understand the level of misogyny in the era and how three people can see the same thing differently or hear something different about the same event. You start off with great sympathy for de Carrouges, but by the time you see the perspective of LeGris and de Carrouges’ wife, you begin to question him and his intentions as well. The story also makes for interesting comparisons between then and now, what has changed and what remains the same, in terms of how society (men) view women’s bodies. I liked the acting overall (I realize that Adam Driver seems to play a very similar character in many of his movies, and it is starting to get old for me), there is enough action scenes for those who like middle-Ages battle scenes, but I liked most the story of this small but significant slice of history. (2021; 4 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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