The Last Duel – Budget Unknown – 2 hours and 33 minutes
Marguerite de Carrouges sits stone-faced at the dinner table with her husband, Sir Jean de Carrouges, and mother-in-law. When Marguerite doesn’t engage in conversation, her mother-in-law leaves, and Jean inquires about her state. She smiles and continues to say nothing. Once in the bedroom, he tries to have sex, but Marguerite refuses. She explains to a confused Jean what happened when he went to France to collect money for fighting in the war. Before he left, Jean told Marguerite not to leave the house nor be alone because it wasn’t safe. However, Marguerite’s mother-in-law departed and took all the servants. A man Marguerite knew came to the door, and she let him in. But she didn’t see Jacques Le Gris standing by the door. When Marguerite opened it, both men came in. Jacques declared his love for her, but she refused him. Then, Jacques raped her. Jean makes Marguerite swear she is telling the truth. And when she does, Jean is enraged. For years, the man who was once his best friend and godfather to his now-deceased child has committed another act to dishonor him. Jacques used his power to gain the land promised in Marguerite’s dowry and took Jean’s captain position under Count Pierre d’Alençon. Jean thinks Jacques raping his wife is another slight against him.
Jean knows that Pierre will reject any charges because Jacques is his friend. So, Jean uses gossip to have the charges tried in a church trial. During the proceedings, Jean lays down his glove to declare a duel to the death to prove Marguerite is telling the truth, and Jacques accepts. However, Jean didn’t tell Marguerite the price if he died. The judge tells Marguerite that she will be chained with an iron collar, tied to a post, whipped, and burned alive. Under those conditions, it can still take 20 to 30 minutes to die. With her life in the hands of Jean, Marguerite declares that she told the truth and she will suffer any fate of the duel.
Based on The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat by Eric Jager and inspired by actual events, the writer tells this plot in three chapters (FTC Affiliate Disclaimer). The first chapter is Jean’s truth. He goes over Jacques’s discretions, Pierre’s betrayal, and meeting Marguerite for the first time. Then he talks about offering the duel in the court after convincing Marguerite to tell the truth. The second chapter is Jacques’s truth. He talks about winning Pierre’s favor, suffering through Jean’s accusations, and falling in love with Marguerite. He acknowledged that she protested his physical advantages, but she is a lady, and that’s what ladies do. The final chapter is Marguerite’s truth. The audience will see her be a spectator in her life. Her father and Jean used her dowry to negotiate her marriage to Jean. Then, Jean used her as a vessel for an heir. But she found her voice when Jean went to war, and she ran the land. Watching the same events from different perspectives allows you to see the events through someone else’s eyes. Before the rape, Jean and Marguerite met with Jacques to show solidarity among the king’s men, and Jean ordered Marguerite to kiss Jacques. For Jean, it was an innocent peck. Jacques felt that Marguerite kissed him back and wanted more. Marguerite felt that Jacques’s kiss felt too intimate. And this is just one of the many moments given from different perspectives. So pay attention. With that said, this movie should come with a trigger warning for sexual assault survivors. It depicts Marguerite’s rape twice. Also, hearing the same excuses used today being doled out in the 1300s will drive you up a wall. While the costumes and performances were accurate, you won’t leave the movie feeling like you want to see it twice. But the gruesome battles and duels make the film worth seeing on the big screen.
I give it 3 out of 5 stars
You saved my life. Thank you – Jacques
I am a jealous man – Jean
Heaven and earth what? – Pierre
I am a good wife – Marguerite