This historical drama contains excessive violence and gore, but at its core, it is about a woman who unknowingly becomes the face of a new movement of people speaking out against sexual assault.
Cast & Crew:
Ridley Scott| Director/Producer
Nicole Holofcener| Producer
Matt Damon| Actor
Jodie Comer| Actor
Ben Affleck| Actor
Adam Driver| Actor
Harriet Walter| Actor
Nathanial Parker| Actor
Sam Hazeldine| Actor
Former friends Jacques Le Gris and Jean de Carrouge have agreed to a duel after the latter’s wife Marguerite accuses him of rape. What brought about this situation in which the two men must fight it out in a deadly duel?
In this enlightened age, where mindfulness is the buzzword and consent is always emphasized, comes this story narrated by Ridley Scott, known for his expertise in the historical genre. This film depicts a world in which women were expected to remain silent and had no voice. It is unthinkable for them to speak out against sexual violence because they are seen as the property of the men in their household. The story, which is rife with violence, especially in the climax, depicts a woman’s voice against rape far ahead of a world in which women could say #MeToo.
The film begins with a dramatic climax, in which Le Gris and Carrouge prepare for a duel in front of the French aristocracy to determine whether the latter’s wife Marguerite is correct in her accusation. The strange way they seek divine answers through a duel between the accused, who is fighting to prove his innocence, and the husband, who is fighting for his wife’s honor, with little space for the woman’s voice to be heard, is rather uncomfortable for us living in today’s world, though it is equally difficult now.
The story is told in the Rashomon style, with three different perspectives on what led up to the actual incident with the duel. After all, history is not based on a single point of view, and this film adaptation of the true story attempts to give the female perspective, with full credit to writers Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Nicole Holofcener for attempting to provide a well-balanced view. Is this a viable option? To a large extent, because it raises the critical issue of consent. There are instances where Le Gris states that Marguerite did have customary protests, but she is only a woman. He is then advised to simply deny it occurred because people will not understand the grey area. Similarly, Marguerite’s friend believes she may be mistaken because she once thought Le Gris was attractive.
The most disturbing yet powerful scene is the trial, which takes place in front of the king before the duel. Marguerite is subjected to a barrage of uncomfortable questions from a group of only men, none of which leave the question of whether she enjoyed sex with her husband or if that satisfied her unanswered. The stoic sadness with which she responds hurts you. Trials by the media, on the other hand, are the same today, which is a different debate altogether. When Marguerite’s mother-in-law admits that she, too, was raped and that women should keep quiet, it makes one wonder about the world that women lived in back then.
The Last Duel may have jagged ends and may not be as grand or bombastic as Scott’s previous films, but it certainly raises important questions that need to be addressed today. This historical drama contains excessive violence and gore, but at its core, it is about a woman who unknowingly becomes the face of a new movement of people speaking out against sexual assault. The cast delivers as expected, with Jodie Comer stealing the show with a measured performance worthy of applause.