The Last Duel

The Last Duel ★★★★½

Ridley really spoiled us with this one, a galloping and agile tirade on the patriarchy, shaking down the roots of our heritage, rampant with chauvinism and misogyny. His Rashomon but with sombre castles, miscreant knights and snowy vistas, The Last Duel dispels the romantic ideas of royal courts and privileged lives in a thematically rich, complex cross-examination, when the mask of chivalry slips to show only self-interest and craven agendas.

The fact an 83 year old made a movie this massive is just insane, a man in complete control. Equally assured in both the grand battles as he is with the quieter, lurid drama. Adam Driver channeling his inner-Rickman, Matt Damon his inner-Matt Damon and Ben Affleck his inner-where the hell has this acting ability been all these years, while Jodie Comer continues to astound.

Comer’s Marguerite is the only person with any tinge of grace, a peacock surrounded by pigeons, her eyes speaking more pain than words could say. A woman of honour imbued with honesty by Comer, whose voice is drowned out by deceitful, coarse men full of warrior pride and fragile egos. It’s undoubtedly her who takes home the crown, but Affleck stands out most to me in a genuinely terrific turn. Years in waiting is his performance, and I shall never underestimate the intelligence of his skill or potential again. It takes a lot to make medieval Machine Gun Kelly work, yet he somehow excels.

The duel itself is nothing short of spectacular, heart of the mouth clashing that had me fidgeting like a fool, squeaking in anticipation of the outcome. Ridley’s best work since I could barely talk is a dazzling, brutal spectacle. Formally intricate and ambivalent, with a keen eye for small details and an even keener eye for storytelling. Just utterly breathtaking, stupefying cinema, what it can and should be. A rush of emotions and intensity, of spectacle and betrayal. The King of this castle is Sir Ridley, and we shall bow before him. Long Live the King! 

Side note - my brother sang happy birthday on set to Matt Damon when filming the battles for this n appears in the credits. Surreal/proud doesn’t cut it

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