The Last Duel, 2021.
Directed by Ridley Scott.
Starring Jodie Comer, Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Ben Affleck, Marton Csokas, Harriet Walter, Clare Dunne, Zeljko Ivanek, Nathaniel Parker, Michael McElhatton, Alex Lawther, Zoé Bruneau, Ian Pirie, William Houston, Sam Hazeldine, Brian F. Mulvey, Caoimhe O’Malley, Serena Kennedy, and Julian Firth.
King Charles VI declares that Knight Jean de Carrouges settle his dispute with his squire by challenging him to a duel.
Director Ridley Scott opens The Last Duel with a shot of two men preparing to joust. As a woman looks on with a vested interest, it’s reasonable to assume that, given the setting of medieval France 1386, one of the men is fighting for her and defending her honor. Ridley Scott also directed Best Picture victor Gladiator, after all.
The Last Duel is the anti-Gladiator.
Scripted by co-stars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (wisely bringing into the fold Nicole Holofcener, presumably to fine-tune the sensitive material and provide a more authentic touch to the female experience of such unforgivingly regressive times that, sadly, have yet to improve fully), The Last Duel is broken up into three separate chapters. Each of them functions as a perspective for one of the major players in this narrative of war, loyalty, betrayal, romance, and serious accusations that can only be resolved with trial by combat.
Meanwhile, Jodie Comer, despite a hopeless spectating victim, portrays a fully fleshed out and layered character, proving that the other crime here is that she is not the entire focus of The Last Duel. Nevertheless, this is still riveting filmmaking, with four commandingly distinct central performances and a savagely tense final battle. Maybe, hopefully, happiness is on the other side.
Tickets can be purchased here.
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com