Trailer: Matt Damon and Adam Driver Get Medieval in ‘The Last Duel’
In this, the modern and “civilized” 21st Century, men settle matters with courts and computer propelled bombs – the latter which often mercilessly hit targets halfway across the world from those typing in the dispatch codes. The former are at times no closer to delivering justice…especially where women are concerned. Appallingly, just seven out of every thousand rape cases in America result in a felony conviction.
A new film by Ridley Scott, the perhaps a little too pithily titled The Last Duel (in theaters October 15), transports us back 700 years to a true story of such matters being sorted in an arguably more honorable way: hand to hand combat. Indeed, taking place in 14th Century France – the time of the Hundred Years War – a gruff looking Matt Damon stars as Jean de Carrouges, whose wife accuses his best friend Jacques Le Gris, a hulking Adam Driver, of entering their home and raping her. In the newly released first trailer, Jodie Comer (who was Elizabeth of York in Starz’ The White Princess) plays Marguerite de Carrouges with a steely defiance.
Not surprisingly, despite the chronology, it’s all framed in a contemporary feminist context, as we see Harriet Walter (Downton Abbey) as Nicole de Buchard, bluntly informing Marguerite, “The truth doesn’t matter. There is only the power of men.” And the preservation of that illusion of power means the two men must duel to the death…thus the title. Although it’s certainly possible women did say such things to one another back then, as well.
Still, it’s telling when Master Carrouges reminds his wife, “I’m risking my life for you,” and she responds back with, “You’re risking my life so you can save your pride.” In medieval Europe, it must be pointed out, if a woman lost her husband, it generally meant losing everything else along with it. (de Carrouges is sternly reminded, “If you lose, your wife will suffer dire consequences.”)
It’s a tale that is still being told, one of men – and their lethal egos – fighting, and women instead fighting for justice to be served. In fact, one could readily detect an underlying message of exasperation in the film’s philosophical arc with men “solving” problems with brutality – which would surely only change if women were running the world…something we’ve long suspected, anyway.
Despite the impressive, evocative cinematography, The Last Duel is anything but a ravishing costume drama. To be sure, much like Game of Thrones, the overall tone and atmosphere is one of unremitting gloom – and the violence is presented in a fairly authentically gruesome manner. Still and all, don’t be surprised if the ultimate payoff ends up being an ideological one.