On a day where the weather was just not great and I wasn’t feeling 100%, I found myself with some free time and a movie I had not had the chance to review. The movie was not one the rest of my family wanted to watch, so it was just me and a bowl of popcorn, ready to see what The Last Duel was all about. The Last Duel is a historical epic, and I do favor time period pieces, so this sounded like a great Saturday afternoon for me! The Last Duel was in theaters in October and released to DVD and Blu-Ray in December.
If you are considering watching this movie, or maybe you already have, here are my thoughts, spoiler-ish free.
About the movie
If you are not familiar with The Last Duel, here is the general description:
The historical epic, 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.
What I thought
The Last Duel was divided into three chapters, each chapter providing a different side of the same story. We hear Jean de Carrouges(Matt Damon), Jacques Le Gris(Adam Driver), and Marguerite(Jodie Comer) all detail their “version” of the same story, over the course of a 152-minute runtime.
This movie had many historic details and was a true story, but I have to admit, the way this story was spread out over 152 minutes was a bit torturous at times. There were parts that varied in each chapter, but not enough for each 45-ish minute chapter . Unfortunately, this takes away from the epic true story this really is.
There are many articles you can search for that discuss the historical accuracies of this movie, and the few details that have been embellished for entertainment sake. Overall, the accuracies outweigh the embellishments.
I enjoy historically accurate movies. I enjoy watching true stories. Do I enjoy watching the same story over and over again within the same movie? Not so much. I really wanted to like this movie. To be completely honest, I didn’t not like it – I just wouldn’t watch it again.
That R rating
The Last Duel is rated R for sexual assault, language, sexual content, some graphic nudity and strong violence. Let’s keep in mind this is a movie that takes place during the Hundred Years War – the bloodshed is strong. There were many moments I turned away from watching due to the portrayal of the blood spatters. Seriously – if blood makes you queasy, be prepared to look away. The best way I can explain this is, imagine a spray bottle full of blood being sprayed everywhere. Some scenes were like that. But lack of bloodshed in a war movie from the 1300s would be historically inaccurate, right?
Keeping the idea that this movie is set in the late 1300s, women were the property of men. And The Last Duel exploits that fact to no end. Marguerite’s rape was not a sexual crime against her, it was a property crime against her husband. While not overly graphic, there are many sexual implications beyond the rape of Marguerite.
There should be a warning on this movie for the scientific beliefs of doctors of this time period. Doctors did not believe that women could conceive without experiencing “pleasure.” Another belief was that a woman could not conceive after being raped, because a woman would not find this pleasurable. There are arguments on these “facts” being historically inaccurate and being used to draw attention to modern day issues.
Should you see this movie?
I am not a fan of telling someone not to see a movie or just pointing out what is wrong with something. I always try to find the bright spot, or something that may appeal to someone. But I have to be honest, this movie is LONG. And somewhat repetitive. If I ever have 152 minutes to burn again, I would much rather watch an Avenger movie than this. That makes me sad, because I really like historic movies, and the history between Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris was actually interesting. Marguerite was a heroine of her time – standing up for the truth when she had no one but her husband behind her. But there are many other ways to learn her story without watching this movie.
“The Last Duel” is based on Eric Jager’s book The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France. I highly recommend checking out the book from your local library if you want to know the story. The Last Duel is available on Digital, 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD.