An all-star cast and some showstoppingly horrible hair can’t save Ridley Scott’s medieval epic
Duelling got Ridley Scott into cinema back in 1977 with his much-admired debut The Duellists, but that was a brisk affair of rapiers at dawn. Medieval jousting is likely to be more cumbersome and clanking, and so it is in The Last Duel. Scott is revered as one of cinema’s most versatile mainstreamers but, barring Gladiator, his historical epics have tended not to win much adoration – something that is unlikely to change with this account of a real-life 14th-century case of rape and rivalry.
The feud is between nobles Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver), who fall out after the latter wins the favour of Count Pierre d’Alençon (Ben Affleck), with De Carrouges losing his destined captaincy and a desired piece of land, part of his promised dowry in his marriage to Marguerite de Thibouville (Jodie Comer). The film begins in 1386, with the men beginning armoured combat in front of King Charles VI, then jumps back to trace the story up to the point when Marguerite tells her husband that Le Gris has raped her.