Duel of knights, a mule and MeToo in Damon’s new movie, Affleck


The fact that a nobleman lied about the rape is the catalyst for a bloody duel to the death between medieval nobles in Ridley Scott’s new film starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

“The Last Duel”, which is loosely based on real events, is both an action film and a commentary on sexual politics, as it searches for vestiges of contemporary MeToo sensibility in 14th century France. , where a woman accused her husband’s friend and courtier colleague of rape.

Damon, Affleck and Nicole Holofcener’s high-profile casting and writing team didn’t spare the film some negative early reviews, however.

“A star-studded cast and horribly gruesome hair cannot save Ridley Scott’s medieval epic,” wrote The Guardian, with Variety calling the film a “medieval soap opera.”

Speaking to reporters ahead of the film’s premiere Friday at the Venice Film Festival, Affleck said he found the story of a young wife who denounces the rape “important and powerful”.

“I consider myself a feminist and I think I was most passionate about this movie because of the character of Marguerite, her extraordinary strength and bravery,” Affleck said.

“To have someone who has suffered a great injustice and who goes to great lengths to seek justice at the risk of his life.”

Damon, sporting a mule and in need of a good scrub, plays Jean de Carrouges, a knight who defends his wife’s word – and his own honor – through a bloody duel. If he didn’t lie about the allegations made against his friend, God will protect him, the king said.

– Clicking armor –

“I’ll support you,” De Carrouges says at the start of the film as he gallops on his horse in war, one of many stock dialogues that hammer out the evils of patriarchy with little nuance.

The film, writes The Hollywood Reporter, includes “a lot of submission to contemporary sensibilities, often bordering on didacticism as the script touches on points of patriarchal privilege and victim blame.”

Key scenes, including rape, are shown three times, depicting the three divergent perspectives of De Carrouges, his nemesis Jacques LeGris (Adam Driver) and Marguerite (Jodie Comer), and highlighting the inability of male characters to see their actions clearly.

Affleck said he wanted to write a film that highlighted the mainstream Western culture which “has not viewed women for centuries as human beings.”

“And of course, many vestigial aspects of that perspective remain.”

In what appears to be a nod to the public at the excesses of his own celebrity past, Affleck plays a feminist and drinker lord who grants donations of land to sycophant LeGris at the expense of De Carrouges.

But the serious themes of sexual assault and female subjugation come across as a façade given the film’s obvious taste for action sequences, where swords clashing, clattering armor, and body-fighting. melee reminiscent of Ridley’s 2000 blockbuster “Gladiator” were not spared.

“The Last Duel” did not respond to historical accuracy, admitted Damon.

“There’s a recording of what happened, but what was so uncreative is that Ridley was like, ‘We don’t do anything with this shit.'”

am / spm

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