The Last Duel recounts the story of the last legally sanctioned trial by combat in France. In 1386, Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer) accuses family friend, squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver), of rape. Seeking justice and vengeance, knight Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) challenges Le Gris to a fight to the death to prove his guilt or innocence in the eyes of god. 

Cowritten by Nicole Holofcener with help from Damon and Ben Affleck, The Last Duel operates as a well-executed storytelling triptych, recounting the same events from the differing perspectives of our main characters. And while this conceit works too well to prevent fatigue in the 152-minute runtime, it’s also where the film’s most evident flaw occurs as the repeated revisiting of Marguerite’s rape in the narrative’s multiple recountings comes across as unnecessarily exploitative. 

That not-insignificant complaint aside, the lead cast all put in engaging performances, with a surprisingly comedic supporting performance by Affleck as Le Gris’s benefactor Count Pierre d’Alençon balancing out the narrative with a degree of necessary levity for the sometimes-overwhelming subject matter. Perhaps the most impressive performance of all though, is that of director Ridley Scott, still helming multiple major features at the age of 83 in the middle of the global pandemic. R, 152 min.

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