Tuesday, November 30, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 39
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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review
A QUIET PLACE PART II
ANOTHER ROUND
BINGEABLE: 100 FOOT WAVE (2021-)
BINGEABLE: BARRY (2018-)
BINGEABLE: FLEABAG (2016-2019)
BINGEABLE: MAID (2021)
BINGEABLE: MIDNIGHT MASS (2021)
BINGEABLE: ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING (2021)
BINGEABLE: SQUID GAME (2021)
BINGEABLE: SWEET TOOTH
BINGEABLE: TELL ME YOUR SECRETS (2021)
BINGEABLE: THE WAY DOWN (2021)
BINGEABLE: Y: THE LAST MAN (2021)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE MATRIX (1999)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE PRESTIGE (2006)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: WILD AT HEART (1990)
BOSS LEVEL
DUNE
ETERNALS
GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE
GUILTY PLEASURES: CHEER (2020)
GUILTY PLEASURES: GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE
GUILTY PLEASURES: JOLT
GUILTY PLEASURES: TRAIN TO BUSAN (2016)
HAVE A GOOD TRIP: ADVENTURES IN PSYCHEDELICS
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM (1996)
I CARE A LOT
I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS
LIMBO
NEW FLICKS: ARMY OF THIEVES
NEW FLICKS: CRUELLA
NEW FLICKS: FINCH
NEW FLICKS: HIGH GROUND
NEW FLICKS: LAND
NEW FLICKS: RED NOTICE
NEW FLICKS: RIDERS OF JUSTICE
NINE DAYS
NINE PERFECT STRANGERS (2021)
NO TIME TO DIE
PIG
SOUL
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM (2019)
THE CARD COUNTER
THE FRENCH DISPATCH
THE LAST BLOCKBUSTER (2020)
THE LAST DUEL
THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS
THE NEW MUTANTS
THE PAPER TIGERS
THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN
THE SUNLIT NIGHT
TV REVIEW: A WILDERNESS OF ERROR (2020)
TV REVIEW: BATES MOTEL
TV REVIEW: DEFENDING JACOB
TV REVIEW: EXTERMINATE ALL THE BRUTES (2021)
TV REVIEW: HOMECOMING
TV REVIEW: HOW TO WITH JOHN WILSON
TV REVIEW: I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE
TV REVIEW: I MAY DESTROY YOU
TV REVIEW: LENOX HILL
TV REVIEW: LITTLE AMERICA
TV REVIEW: MARE OF EASTTOWN
TV REVIEW: MRS. AMERICA
TV REVIEW: ONE MISSISSIPPI
TV REVIEW: PAINTING WITH JOHN (2021)
TV REVIEW: RAMY
TV REVIEW: RUN
TV REVIEW: SPACE FORCE
TV REVIEW: TABOO
TV REVIEW: TED LASSO (2020-)
TV REVIEW: THE BOYS
TV REVIEW: THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD
TV REVIEW: THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT
TV REVIEW: THE LAST KINGDOM
TV REVIEW: THE MIDNIGHT GOSPEL
TV REVIEW: THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL OF ALL (2020)
TV REVIEW: THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA
TV REVIEW: THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT
TV REVIEW: THE VOW
TV REVIEW: UNDONE
TV REVIEW: WANDAVISION
TV REVIEW: WARRIOR
TV REVIEW: WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
TV REVIEW: ZEROZEROZERO
UNDERRATED: BATMAN BEGINS (2005)
UNDERRATED: THE KINGDOM (2007)

‘The Last Duel’ examines toxic masculinity and misogyny

THE LAST DUEL

PHOTO BY , COURTESY OF 20TH CENTURY STUDIOS AND SCOTT FREE PRODUCTIONS

THE LAST DUEL


Where is it playing?: Regal Edwards RPX Santa Maria, Regal Edwards Arroyo Grande

What's it rated?: R

What's it worth?: $Full price (Anna Starkey)

What's it worth?: $Full price (Glen Starkey)

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down) directs this historical drama written by Nicole Holofcener and two of its stars, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting). The year is 1386, and Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer) claims Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver)—her husband’s purported friend—raped her. Marguerite demands justice, and King Charles VI (Alex Lawther) grants her husband, knight Jean de Carrouges (Damon), the right to challenge Le Gris to trial by combat, in what was the last legally sanctioned duel in France’s history. The film features Affleck as Count Pierre d’Alençon. (152 min.)

Glen: If—in light of the #MeToo movement—you’re not furious enough, The Last Duel will set your blood to boil. As misogynistic as things are now, apparently pre-Renaissance-period France was the equivalent of the tail-end of a long and drunken frat party thrown by man-babies who believed God’s forgiveness was only a confession away. Women were possessions, and if you raped another man’s wife, the crime was against the husband, not his wife. Throw in a little “you can’t get pregnant from rape because a baby can only be conceived if the woman orgasms, and if the woman orgasms it isn’t rape,” and you’ve got a big old plate of triggering pie. Uncomfortable sex scenes abound, especially considering the tale is told three times from various perspectives à la Rashomon (1950); hence, we get to see the “event” over and over. Jean de Carrouges is the equivalent of a meat-headed sports hero—full of himself and easily offended. In short, he’s self-entitled, not bright enough to see the political machinations going on around him, with a quick-to-anger ego that’s his own worst enemy. Jacque Le Gris is sycophantically ambitious, overly cocksure, and incapable of realizing a woman may not be attracted to him. He’s the pretty-boy dandy who thinks he’s God’s gift to the ladies. The two are alike enough to be friends but competitive enough to become enemies. When they finally square off at story’s end in mortal combat—the winner apparently being the one God allowed to triumph because he was in the right—it’s hard to root for either. By then we know they’re not the hero of this story. Marguerite is.

Anna: I have to give big trigger warnings for this film for its depiction of rape; the third act—which is from Marguerite’s perspective—was so disturbing I quite literally covered my eyes and ears in the theater. It is absolutely a depiction that is visceral and difficult to watch. The men in this tale are wholly vile; that being said, it is a sliding scale. Just the accusation of rape could put Marguerite’s head quite literally on the chopping block, yet she must trust in her brutish husband to fight for her justice. Damon and Affleck are a good writing team, and while I’ve heard some complaints that this film is “slow,” I disagree. Repetitive, maybe. We do see many scenes played out over again from the various perspectives, but it’s smart filmmaking and the subtle shifts we see in gaze and perception offer a really interesting shift in focus. Does Le Gris think he raped Marguerite? In short, no. He is so pompous that he can’t imagine any woman, and especially a forbidden one, denying him in any way. He’s spoiled by Pierre d’Alençon who treats him as his special boy, seemingly because the two share the same voracious appetite for women and booze. Those men are always up for an orgy, let’s just say that. While the men take the majority of screen time here, this really is Marguerite’s story. She’s the one who deserves a win, and the only character I really cared to root for.

Glen: It’s interesting to note that Scott’s debut, The Duellists (1977)—based on Joseph Conrad’s short story “The Duel”—was another historical drama about two Frenchmen with a beef who duel it out several times over many years. It won Best First Work at the Cannes Film Festival that year. As for “slow,” compared to Scott’s Best Picture Oscar-winner Gladiator (2000), The Last Duel might strike action junkies as too staid. After a brief opening tease that preludes the concluding duel, viewers have to contend with only a handful of well-staged medieval battles. When the violence comes, however, it’s visceral. This isn’t, however, a typical action film. It’s most interested in injustice toward women and how men rationalize inequality. Its settings and locations are terrific, its atmosphere is gray and oppressive, and its cinematography stunning. Ridley Scott still has the magic touch.

Anna: Even with less battling and more brooding, I stayed engaged. Maybe the trickery of switching perspectives kept me grounded in it. I found it fascinating to see how the three characters viewed the same scene. The replay of the intrusion on Marguerite’s estate and the subsequent assault were especially interesting when viewed from the pompous perspective of Le Gris and the trapped victim perspective of Marguerite. Once at trial, Le Gris pulls his best Brock Turner impression, forlornly claiming that his action was first not wrong and second should not condemn the rest of his life. I’m a big Adam Driver fan, even when he’s the bad guy, and as a testament to his skill, he made me just loathe him here. There are some big names and some big money behind this one, and it shows.

New Times Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey write Sun Screen. Glen compiles streaming listings. Comment at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.










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