The new movie “The Last Duel” marks the first time Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have written a screenplay together since “Good Will Hunting”, released in 1997 and won both of them the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1998. I recently saw both Affleck and Damon on a talk show, talking about the arduous and long task of writing Good Will Hunting. This film is named as the best opening film in October 2021 for film fans around the world, along with the film Venom: Let There Be Carnage which became the biggest hit in American cinema.
According to Damon, the process took years of learning how to create a great screenplay, and over 1000 pages of trial and error. This is what it takes to create a great screenplay, which is why so few have been written. It took of all people, Harvey Weinstein to bring Good Will Hunting to the screen with his money and clout – unfortunately.
The Last Duel is a cinematic and thought-provoking drama set in the midst of the Hundred Years War that explores the ubiquitous power of men, the frailty of justice and the strength and courage of one woman willing to stand alone in the service of truth. Based on actual events, the film unravels long-held assumptions about France’s last sanctioned duel between Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris, two friends turned bitter rivals. Carrouges is a respected knight known for his bravery and skill on the battlefield. Le Gris is a Norman squire whose intelligence and eloquence make him one of the most admired nobles in court. When Carrouges’ wife, Marguerite, is viciously assaulted by Le Gris, a charge he denies, she refuses to stay silent, stepping forward to accuse her attacker, an act of bravery and defiance that puts her life in jeopardy. The ensuing trial by combat, a grueling duel to the death, places the fate of all three in God’s hands.
- Rating: R (Sexual Assault|Language|Sexual Content|Some Graphic Nudity|Strong Violence)
- Genre: Drama, History
- Original Language: English
- Director: Ridley Scott
- Producer: Ridley Scott, Kevin J. Walsh, Jennifer Fox, Nicole Holofcener
- Writer: Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon
- Release Date (Theaters): Oct 15, 2021 Wide
- Runtime: 2h 33m
- Distributor: 20th Century Studios
- Sound Mix: Dolby Atmos
- Aspect Ratio: Scope (2.35:1)
The story behind The Last Duel happened in the 1380’s in France. Amazingly this story is about a duel to the death over a woman, due to a he said – she said – over a alleged rape of a French Soldier’s wife and his best friend. This story is told in 3 parts, reminding me of a weak episode of a sitcom where 3 perspectives of a story are told almost as if the writers had trouble coming up with a teleplay that week. How and why Damon and Affleck found this obscure story from so long ago and then agreed to go through the hardships of writing and then filming a movie like this in the depressing dark French countryside for months, is the most unlikely part about this film. Then add highly respected director Ridley Scott who directed this movie that like so many films was halted in mid production during the Pandemic of 2020.
I am very surprised by the relatively high 86% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes for this film, despite the good acting including relative newcomer Jodie Comer, who plays Damon’s wife. There are too many areas of slow moving boredom that in some cases can offset the good parts of this film and I did not like the 3 part perceptive idea, repeating too many areas of this story. For me, this film will not be as interesting as Dune (Movie,2021), but comparable to the latest James Bond film No Time to Die. The essential problem is that the overall idea here is not big enough or compelling enough to make a movie about it. The final duel scene is impressive between Adam Driver and Matt Damon, and I was surprised at the relatively small role for Ben Affleck, who plays a King who constantly cheats on his wife.
I rank this movie as a marginal thumbs up, mainly for fans of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.