Adapted from Eric Jager’s 2004 book of the same name, The Last Duel is a 2021 epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott from a script by Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon. Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) is accused of rape by Jean de Carrouges’ wife Marguerite (Jodie Comer) and Jean de Carrouges challenges his old friend and squire Jacques Le Gris to a judicial battle. The film is set in medieval France and stars Matt Damon as Jean de Carrouges, a knight. The three major protagonists’ divergent viewpoints are reflected in the three chapters that make up the events leading up to the duel. As Count Pierre d’Alençon, Affleck also appears in a supporting role.
First announced in 2015, the film version of Jager’s book has now been formally greenlit only in July of this year. Affleck and Damon were announced as the film’s actors and co-writers in that same month. Production in France and Ireland from February to October 2020 was interrupted by the COVID-19 epidemic.
20th Century Studios released The Last Duel on October 15, 2021, after its global premiere at the Venice International Film Festival on September 10, 2021. Critics were impressed by the picture, comparing it to Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon and praising the acting and production elements (1950). In 2021, the National Board of Review named it as one of the top ten best films of the year. However, despite a $100 million production budget, the film only earned $30.6 million at the box office.
The Last Duel Plotline
Jean de Carrouges, Jacques Le Gris, and Marguerite de Carrouges are all featured in separate chapters of the film.
Following his service in the Caroline War, Jean de Carrouges and his colleague squire, Jacques Le Gris, swear allegiance to the count of Alençon, whom King Charles VI had designated as Jean’s overlord. As a result, Pierre has entrusted Jacques to collect the money for the war levies, and he agrees to appeal for leniency on Jean’s behalf when his brother-in-arms says that he does not have the money.
Jean marries Marguerite de Thibouville, who gives him a hefty dowry and the right to numerous important estates, including the renowned Aunou-le-Faucon estate, in order to restore his financial situation. Jacques, on the other hand, was already the beneficiary of Pierre’s bequest of that estate. To get back the estate, King Charles dismisses Jean’s suit in front of him.
By giving Jacques the captaincy of the castle of Bellême, Pierre retaliates against the Carrouges family, which has held the position since the 13th century. Marguerite’s inability to have a child strains Jean’s marriage, while Le Gris obtains Pierre’s trust and a place at court by utilizing his accounting knowledge to handle the count’s funds.
Jacques and Marguerite are reunited during a festival, where he falls in love with her when she befriends him to seek his approval. In his mind, Jacques sees this as a sign that she reciprocates his feelings for him, and he believes she doesn’t love Jean.
On his way to collect his earnings in Paris, Jean is knighted for his services in Scotland, but he is still impoverished after a failed military battle. Marguerite is left alone when Jean’s mother takes all of the servants to attend a court matter. In the future, Jacques returns and sneaks his way into the chateau, where he proudly declares his love for it. In response to Marguerite’s demands to leave, he chases her into her room, misinterprets it as an invitation for sex, and rapes her before he tells her to keep the secret from her husband.
Marguerite tells Jean what occurred when he returns, and after Jean questions, if she is telling the truth angrily, Jean believes she is telling the truth and demands that Marguerite have sex with him immediately in order for him to not be “the last guy she knew.”
Pierre reveals to Jacques that Jean has accused him of raping Marguerite, a charge that he vigorously denies. A duel to the death is requested by Jean in spite of the count’s attempts to assert his dominance. It’s Jacques’s decision to take up the challenge.
Jacques’ mother tells Marguerite to drop her accusations (and accept any consequences) so that her son can avoid a court judgment, citing a previous occasion when she was raped in her youth. Marguerite’s friends abandon her, believing she is lying to cover up an affair. Meanwhile, Jean’s mother insists that Marguerite drop her accusations (and accept any consequences).
Even though the court hints that Jacques is the father of Marguerite’s child, a now-pregnant Marguerite maintains steadfast in her denial of any wrongdoing at Jacques’ trial six months later. Charles VI agrees to a death-defying duel proposed by Jean. She accuses Jean of omitting to warn her that he would be burned alive if she didn’t succeed. Before the combat, Marguerite gives birth to a boy.
Jean and Jacques engage in a jousting match until both men lose their horses and are forced to engage in a hand-to-hand fight. While wounded, Jean is eventually able to restrain Jacques. When Jacques refuses to confess, claiming his innocence since he truly believes he did not rape Marguerite, Jean shoots him to death. His victory has made him a hero and Marguerite is following in his footsteps. His body is stripped and paraded around the streets before it is publicly hung upside down.
When Marguerite died thirty years later, an epilogue indicates that Jean died fighting in the Crusades, while Marguerite remained to manage his inheritance.
- Matt Damon as Sir Jean de Carrouges
- Adam Driver as Jacques Le Gris
- Jodie Comer as Marguerite de Carrouges
- Ben Affleck as Count Pierre d’Alençon
- Harriet Walter as Nicole de Buchard
- Alex Lawther as King Charles VI
- Serena Kennedy as Queen Isabeau
- Marton Csokas as Crespin
- Željko Ivanek as Le Coq
- Tallulah Haddon as Mar
The Last Duel Production
Francis Lawrence was set to helm and Shaun Grant was penning the script when the project was first revealed in July of that year. The picture rights lapsed, and no further production was reported. Affleck and Damon will star, and Scott will direct and write the screenplay with Nicole Holofcener, according to Deadline Hollywood in July of this year. It was unclear whether Walt Disney Studios would create the picture because of its subject matter; nonetheless, Deadline Hollywood reported that “every studio in town was waiting in the wings” if Disney sold the rights to the film.
When Affleck decided not to reprise his role as a supporting character in the film, Jodie Comer initiated discussions to join the cast in September and was confirmed the following month. Disney said in November that it will distribute Driver and had already set a release date for the film. In February of 2020, Harriet Walter was cast in a supporting role.
France’s Dordogne region was chosen as the location for the filming on February 14, 2020.
Until March 12, 2020, in Berzé-le-Châtel (near Mâcon), Burgundy, France, in the ancient fortress of Berzé-le-Châtel (with a film crew of 300 people including 100 extras).
From March 23, 2020, to March 30, 2020, filming was scheduled to take place in Ireland at Bective Abbey, County Meath, Cahir Castle, County Tipperary, as well as other locations in Dublin and County Wicklow.  As a result of the COVID-19 epidemic and travel restrictions in Europe, Disney stated on March 13th, 2020 that the shoot will be postponed indefinitely. In late September of 2020, production in Ireland was restarted, and filming was completed on October 14 of that year.
The Last Duel Release Date
On December 25, 2020, the limited theatre release of The Last Duel was initially intended to begin, before expanding wide on January 8, 2021.
It was postponed until October 15, 2021, because of the COVID-19 epidemic. On September 10, 2021, it was shown for the first time in the world at the Venice Film Festival. For 45 days, the film was only available in theatres before being released on digital platforms.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released the movie on November 30, 2021, on digital platforms and premium video-on-demand, and on Blu-ray, DVD, and Ultra HD Blu-ray on December 14, 2021.