COLUMN: “The Last Duel” is original film that mirrors current issues


Drew Coffey

Drew Coffey, Columnist

Content Warning: Sexual Assault

“The Last Duel,” directed by Ridley Scott, was released in 2021. It stars Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, and Ben Affleck. This film reunites Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as screen writers after the film “Good Will Hunting,” which earned them both an Academy Award for Best Screenplay.

The film tells the story of a well-respected knight and squire who become well accustomed friends over time in France during the late 1300’s. Until one day, the squire played by Driver, sexually assaults the knight’s wife in his own home.

Upon the knight, played by Damon, and his wife pressing charges against the squire, King Charles VI decide to settle the matter with a duel to the death between the two men.

To start with, the film does a skilled job with costume design and breath-taking cinematography. This is a highly realistic and top-notch looking film due to it being filmed in both France and Ireland. This comes as no surprise to viewers of Ridley Scott’s award-winning film “Gladiator,” which was filmed in countries all over the world.

The three leads deliver amazing performances, most notably Jodie Comer. She does a stunning job playing a shamed victim that believes her story should be acknowledged in the eyes of the court in a time where a woman’s opinion was given no respect. There lies the true greatness of this film, the commentary on sexual assaults and the courage it takes for a victim to come forward. This is an issue in the world that is more relevant now more than ever.

Throughout the film, the women in the story give subtle hints about their unhappiness and discouragement with the way that society viewed woman at this time in history. These various instances only increase the amount of realism that is implemented into the story.

Another way that this film displays issues of sexual assault that are relevant today is its structure. The film is separated into three chapters, detailing the point of views of the knight, his wife, and the squire who is accused of the disgusting assault. By doing this, we are given a pure look into how certain physical and verbal cues may have caused the assault to occur. By no means is this alleviating the disgusting and vile nature of the assault but gives an original take on how multiple people perceive the same event differently.

The film ends with the magnificent duel which uses creative camera angles to evoke a sense of suspense within the battle. It gives some intense moments that never shy away from showing substantial amounts of blood, marking this as debatably Ridley Scott’s most violent film to date.

“The Last Duel” is a remarkably original film in a time where originality is left on the back burner. It gives strong performances from its actors, fantastic camera work, and a story that gives an insightful yet respectful look into the issue of sexual assault.

Drew Coffey is a freshman television and video production major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].