The Last Duel is an engrossing piece of work set in 14th century medieval France with an amazing true story of France’s last trial by a duel to the death. This barbaric form of justice pits the two opposing parties against each other with the belief that the outcome of the duel shall reflect the innocence or guilt of the accused party by God’s will. Matt Damon and Adam Driver plays the feuding knights fighting over the alleged indignity bestowed upon Matt’s wife (played by Jodie Comer) by the Adam Driver character. The film opens with the start of the duel which is then paused to bring us to the background story on what transpired to result in this.
Under the abled and experienced helm of director Ridley Scott, The Last Duel has the look and feel of an epic. Done in “rashomon” style (named after the Akira Kurasawa iconic movie Rashomon which first used this style of story telling) where the same story is recounted by different characters from their point of view. While some people may find this style repetitive and a drag in pacing, I actually found it a refreshing change from the norm. Whether one of these version represents the truth or not is intriguing. Perhaps none of the version is absolutely accurate and the truth lies somewhere in the whole mix.
The story finally ends where it began, with the duel. This is probably the only main action sequence in the whole movie so those looking for a Ridley Scott Gladiator type of action will be sorely disappointed. Nevertheless this duel is very well filmed and totally engaging with every blow and hit delivered with impact. This is movie making at its best.
The Last Duel is a rare gem in today’s new movies. It has an original story, no monsters and heavy CGI effects, splendid costumes and sets, and a wonderful cast. Adam Driver once again shows us why he is one of Hollywood’s best actors today with his versitality in his role. Ben Affleck is almost unrecognisable with his uniquely trimmed facial hair and playing a character that is unusual for him. But it is Jodie Comer who I felt shone the brightest as the woman in the centre of the conflict.
Finally, a word of admiration to ace director Ridley Scott for still being able to give us such a grand and entertaining piece of work at a ripe old age of 84! I look forward to seeing his other big release from 2021, The House of Gucci.