The Last Duel written by Eric Jager rating ****
The Last Duel written by Nicole Holofcener, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck directed by Ridley Scott
Book or film? I chose to do both. It’s been a while since I had a chance to read a book and then head out to a theatre to see the film version. I’m glad I did. I enjoyed both.
I’m not a fan of this era. The whole knights and armor thing just doesn’t appeal to me. But I was interested to see how this particular story would play out in the adaptation. The book by Eric Jager walks the reader through the quarrels, disagreements, and the alleged rape that led to the duel between Jean de Carrouges and Jacques la Gris. The author presents the accusation from Carrouges’s wife, Marguerite. He also describes several other alternatives to what may have happened.
The screenwriter Nicole Holofcener, along with help from Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, attempted to do the same thing but with mixed results. When you boil it down to its essence, this is a story of he said she said. So, either La Gris raped Marguerite, or it was a consensual relationship. In the film version, however, they decided to tell three versions. The problem is that in all three versions a rape occurs.
Adding to the confusion is an early scene in Jacques la Gris’s version where there seems to be a consensual relationship between La Gris and Marguerite, making the later rape scene seem implausible.
In my mind, they should have stuck with two versions. In one, there is rape. In the second, La Gris and Marguerite have consensual sex.
Visually the film is stunning, despite the darkness and muted colors. Ridley Scott knows how to make movies. I got to watch this sixty-million dollar movie on the big screen with only one other person in the theatre, which doesn’t bode well for the film’s financial return. That’s a shame, too. We need more films that tell stories that don’t involve special effects and superheroes.
The performances by Matt Damon and Adam Driver are noteworthy. Jodie Comer as Marguerite is also very good, though she stands out in the film like a spec of color and a sea of black and white.