“The Last Duel” is a clash of movie titans — at least as far as awards pedigree goes — with Oscar winner Damon as Jean de Carrouges and Oscar nominee Driver as Jacques Le Gris, the two friends turned bitter rivals who participated in France’s last sanctioned duel.
Set during the Hundred Years War, Carrouges is a respected knight known for his bravery and skill on the battlefield. Le Gris is a Norman squire whose intelligence and eloquence make him one of the most admired nobles in court. Two-time Oscar winner Ben Affleck is Count Pierre d’Alençon (sporting that buzzed about, yet still shockingly blonde hairdo).
But the heart of the story is much deeper than a simple tale of jousting and swordplay.
Emmy winner Jodie Comer stars as Marguerite de Carrouges, Jean’s wife, who sets off the movie’s plot after she is viciously assaulted by Le Gris, a charge he denies. Maguerite refuses to stay silent, stepping forward to accuse her attacker, an act of bravery and defiance that puts her life in jeopardy.
The stylized trailer opens with an unidentified voice asking, “There is only one question that matters. Do you swear on your life that what you say is true?”
As medieval scenes play out in the foreground, Comer’s Marguerite answers: “My father told me my life would be blessed with good fortune. I married. I was a good wife. And then was judged and shamed by my country.”
“I say before all of you,” Maguerite declares, as she comes into full focus. “I spoke the truth.” But, she is told, “The truth does not matter. There is only the power of men.”
Despite Le Gris’ proclamation of innocence, Carrouges believes his wife’s story and challenges his former friend to a duel. “If you lose, your wife will suffer dire consequences,” he is warned.
The ensuing trial by combat, a grueling duel to the death, places the fate of all three in God’s hands.
Written by Nicole Holofcener, Affleck and Damon, the movie is based on actual events, unraveling the long-held assumptions about what happened between the two men. The project adapts Eric Jager’s book “The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France.”
“This film is an effort to retell the story of a heroic woman from history whom most people haven’t heard of,” says Holofcener, Affleck and Damon. “We admired her bravery and resolute determination and felt this was both a story that needed to be told and one whose drama would captivate audiences the way it moved us as writers.”
“As we further explored the story, we found so many aspects of the formal, codified patriarchy of 14th century Western Europe to still be present in vestigial ways (and in some cases almost unchanged) in today’s society,” the trio continued. We chose to use the device of telling the story from several character’s perspectives in order to examine the immutable fact that although often multiple people who experience the same event come away with differing accounts, there can only be one truth.”
The film is produced by Scott, Kevin J. Walsh (“Manchester by the Sea”), Jennifer Fox (“Nightcrawler”), Holofcener, Damon and Affleck with Kevin Halloran (“Ford v Ferrari”), Drew Vinton (“Promised Land”), Madison Ainley (“Justice League”) serving as executive producers.
“I love working with Matt [Damon starred in 2015’s “The Martian”], so it was an added bonus to be able to work with him and Ben as both actors and as screenwriters, along with Nicole Holofcener, and I knew it would be a great result,” says director/producer Ridley Scott. “I had admired the show ‘Killing Eve’ and had been looking for the opportunity to present Jodie Comer with a challenging role. Her performance as Marguerite will make her one of the great actresses of her generation.”
“The Last Duel” opens in theaters nationwide Oct. 15.
Watch the trailer and see the first-look images below.