The Last Duel

The Last Duel ★★★★½

🏆90%
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King Charles VI declares that Knight Jean de Carrouges settle his dispute with his squire by challenging him to a duel.

Ridley Scott has emerged from the ashes more powerful than ever. We can only hope to contain this power, but it will only grow with Gucci (that sounds weird now that I am typing it). The Last Duel is occasionally difficult to watch, and this is clearly when Comer’s character is having to endure this traumatic event. Not only do we see this happen once, but due to the way the story is told, we have to see it multiple times. This is the only aspect of the film that is difficult to digest. I completely understand why he chooses to do this, as we all (clearly) get behind and root for Comer to overcome these odds, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch. Regardless, I believe the overarching impact of the story overcomes any difficulties within the moments.

Let’s talk about the structure because that seems to be the point of division between critics. Choosing to tell this story with a conventional three act structure feels boring after seeing it this way. Sure, many see this way as boring because of the repetitive moments, but because of the immense level of detail, I just can’t agree. Each time we switch perspectives, Scott chooses to show us both subtle and not so subtle differences that make the story feel somewhat fresh. On its surface, the film is absolutely telling the same story over again, but each time we see it brings something new to the table. It is up to us to figure out who we believe, which perspective feels the most real, and why each character sees this differently. There are clear overlaps, and certain scenes even play out the same way (with different camera angles), but the differences are what I had the most fun with.

Beyond all of this, the film is much more about feeling the raw emotions than having fun. The battles are brutal, epic, and expertly crafted, the dialogue is powerful, and the division between certain characters will beak your heart. From a performance standpoint, Damon and Driver are excellent, but it is Jodie Comer who steals the show. We are clearly behind her throughout, but she takes this script and elevates it even more-so. The surprise here is Affleck, as he genuinely gives a performance worthy of a nomination. Will this film get any nominations after being a box office failure? I’m not entirely sure, but I could care less because I will still hold it in high regard. The Last Duel is just magnificent. I am a sucker for a good medieval tale, but I did not expect it to be on this level.

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