Photo: ‘The Last Duel’
The consequences of a woman’s painful truth lead to a violent and history-making moment that takes center stage in the cinematic adaptation of ‘The Last Duel,’ created by the legendary duo Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. The film is based on the novel written by an American professor, Eric Jager, and interprets the heartbreaking narrative of Marguerite de Carrouges flawlessly performed by Jodie Comer.
Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Nicole Holofcener, the writers of the film, encompass the controversial treatment of a woman’s voice in the 14th century that somehow resonates with 21stcentury women. Holofcener was able to provide feminine input to a violent narrative that centered on the voice of Marguerite de Carrouges. In the era of the #MeToo movement, ‘The Last Duel’ takes a harrowing look at sexual violence against women and the continued assault of a woman’s dignity once she musters the courage to speak up against her aggressor.
‘The Last Duel’ – Premiere & Reactions
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s feature film, ‘The Last Duel,’ is a testament to their cinematic versatility with a harrowing story that amplifies, dissects, and challenges the power and the force of a woman’s voice within a patriarchal world. The narrative follows the final legal duel that took place in Paris, France within the 14th century. A woman’s story becomes interpreted through the masculine lens of men in judicial and social power. After accusing a squire of rape, Jacques Le Gris (played by Adam Driver), noblewoman Marguerite de Carrouges is forced to defend her claim of being sexually assaulted and demands justice that signifies a clear definition of a woman’s sexual right. However, her story becomes obscured when doubted and challenged, leaving her truth to be unclear for many.
Historical Accounts of Rape
The cinematic adaptation contributes a visual and visceral perception to the conversation of the globally recognized #MeToo movement. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have joined forces to co-write, along with Nicole Holofcener, and produce ‘The Last Duel,’ which provides a sense of validity and weight behind a woman’s claim, Marguerite de Carrouges, of being sexually violated. The story follows the social and political repercussions that women fear to endure once they share their anguish and anger towards savagery and assault. The political chaos ensues as Marguerite de Carrouges testifies that Le Gris traveled to the home of her mother-in-law in Capomesnil, to ultimately rape her, and is forced to defend her painful truth for doubtful ears.
At the time of the assault, Marguerite de Carrouges was alone, her husband had traveled to Paris and the servants along with her mother-in-law were off the property. The timing and motive are arguably plausible since her husband, Sir Jean de Carrouges (played by Matt Damon), travels to Paris on the heels of an argument with Le Gris over Marguerite’s family property. Despite the possibility, there was a great risk for a woman to accuse a man of rape, whether it was true. If found guilty, the perpetrator would be punished by death. However, if the woman is believed to be lying, she would be put to death in a gruesome and horrific manner, by burning at the stake.
The Political Turmoil of a Woman’s Truth
The film’s premise unfolds when Marguerite’s husband, Sir Jean de Carrouges, pleads to the French king, Charles VI, along with the French court to seek justice and retribution. However, sexual violence against women rarely made their day in court. In fact, only 12 rape cases were known to reach the French courts between 1314 and 1399. The value of a woman’s dignity was blurred by the fact that a wife was her husband’s property. This left Marguerite to leave her fate in the hands of her husband, who carried a more powerful social standing. Despite Sir Jean’s persistent pleading with the French parliament, his final option was to challenge Le Gris to a duel where God would decide who is innocent.
The grueling circumstances became publicized and ruthlessly scrutinized by France’s social and political forces. The story of Marguerite de Carrouges became the story of all women of the 14th century who have suffered the acute physical and emotional ramifications of rape then were forced to discover their personal journey to justice and acceptance. The relevancy for women in the 21st century is what makes this story a powerful and nuanced way of how women’s sexual agency has been misrepresented through the centuries. The systemic dismissal of a woman’s accusation of rape represents the mere value society places on a woman’s judicial and ethical right to safety and dignity. Marguerite de Carrouges’ narrative is a symbolic reminder that the voice of a woman is powerful because of the collective desire to defeat and vanquish gender oppression that remains prevalent today.
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‘The Last Duel’ – What Can We Expect?
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck join forces with Nicole Holofcener to provide a story that focuses on gender, privilege, and the timeless fear of a woman harnessing her strength and persistence to seek justice. Jodie Comer’s performance is heartbreaking, powerful, and vulnerable in a way that provides a visceral interpretation of the historical figure, Marguerite de Carrouges. Despite taking place in 1386, the film echoes the sentiments of 21st-century women who believe their voices are often silenced out of fear. For all the cultural subjugation of women, ‘The Last Duel’ is a prompt that encourages women to continue to share their stories because it is a woman’s voice that is the key to unlocking cultural, social, and political shifts.
Viewers of ‘The Last Duel’ can expect to see powerhouses like Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Adam Driver, and Jodie Comer collide to tell the exciting and violent story of the final legal duel recorded in history. The events that lead to the final battle are equally thrilling and display the anguish of a woman who has been mistreated by not just one man, but by society who continued to exacerbate her misery through social injustice. Marguerite de Carrouges and her husband, Sir Jean de Carrouges must maneuver the political and social battleground that arises once she speaks her truth.
Cast: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jodie Comer, Adam Driver
Writer(s): Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Nicole Holofcener
Director: Ridley Scott
By Gina Michele Yaniz
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Gina Michele Yaniz is a writer and digital media content creator with a deep love for storytelling. Charmed by the notable influence of the entertainment industry, Gina is passionate about uplifting the voices of artists and celebrating powerful material. She likes to embody the philosophy of writing through a non-judgmental and a genuine perspective while expanding the perception of film industry. Along with Hollywood Insider, Gina values the responsibility the media holds and wishes to use her writing to provide meaningful content. During her free time, Gina loves to watch period pieces, stand-up comedy, and indulges on her avid interest for reading articles on self-care.