Take the epic battle scenes in Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven (2005) and the ferocious dialogue of his Gladiator (2000) and replace them with a drab medieval soap opera about three long-drawn-out perspectives of a rape scene. You are left with a wretched, wearisome experience in the movie theatre. It’s the kind of experience that makes you long for a hot shower with flowery-scented soaps. Heck, even a visit with the dentist would have been more entertaining.
Enduring the dark subject matter is one thing. Enduring the one-toned performances (mulleted Matt Damon), oddly miscast ones (Ben Affleck), and the “acting” from a different planet (Harriet Walter, it’s time to choose a different profession, my dear) is another. Quasi-French/British accents distract from what is already an elementary screenplay that wants to be a 14th century Rashomon but also a Ridley Scott film with closeups of bludgeon blows to skulls. (I preferred the bludgeon blows.)
Flashes of captivation come from Adam Driver’s sickly twisted portrayal of a sex and greed lavished squire, but resentment for his character boils over in minutes. Then, it’s another 130 minutes to go, clocking in a total of 153 when 90 would have sufficed.
As if Hollywood felt compelled to reinterpret Straw Dogs (1971) to a medieval setting, we, the audience, are left asking ourselves why. Were we educated? No. Entertained? Nope. Better off having seen it? Let me take another shower or see the dentist before I answer that.
*1/2 out *****
I realize I’m in the minority here. The Last Duel scored a semi-decent 67 on Metacritic and holds a 3.8 on millennial-driven Letterboxd.
I’d love to hear what you thought! (Maybe I’ve been watching too much Disney these days.)