October 2021 Forecast Part 2
By Michael Lynderey
October 10, 2021
Part one here (Halloween to Ron's Gone Wrong).
9. The Last Duel (October 15th)
If you're on your way to a duel right now (good luck with your aim), don't despair or take this film's title to heart. Your plans have not been cancelled. "The Last Duel" applies only to the French, who bailed out of this honourable and time-tested practice of conflict-resolution all the way back in 1386, when this film's last legally-sanctioned mano-a-mano faceoff takes place. Their loss is our gain.
Director Ridley Scott trades well in pictures about parasitic alien vulgarities and female-bonding road trips, but I suspect his biggest, most personal fixture has been the historical ballad, the period piece, the tale of noble knights and sirs and maidens settling out their desires in old-fashioned ways. The Duellists was his first film, and maybe there's some symmetry with this new release's title (though don't worry; Scott, who is 84, has another film out forthwith. House of Gucci bows in November, and there'll be at least three more by 2023).
This time, Scott's luxurious running time is devoted to the turmoil of knight Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) as one's wife (Jodie Comer) accuses the other of rape, and things escalate rather fastidiously from there. Only one will be left standing, of course, though Ben Affleck, as Count Pierre d'Alençon, glances bemusedly from the sidelines. Spectators of this historical bloodmatch also include King Charles VI (Alex Lawther) and a host of local dignitaries, who correctly predicted it would become the last chance they'd have to witness such a pay-per-view quality event, and sure didn't miss it.
As is expected with Scott, no expense has been spared on the scenery, costumes, production design, and historical veracity, though seriously, for a period piece set that far back, why did they skimp the money on showing us the dinosaurs? Would a brontasaurus nibbling away at a fig leaf in the background of a few jousting shots put that much of a knack on the catering budget? Spielberg did it.
Various trivia must be recited. Damon and Affleck are credited for the first time as screenwriters since Good Will Hunting in 1997 (Nicole Holofcener co-writes also), and the two haven't really even shared the screen together, really shared, since Dogma in 1999. It's been a while. Driver is newer, but has worked quickly, finding himself at the front of the poster of Scott's upcoming Gucci film, not to mention at any number of other films dying to be in the awards conversation. The running time is, again, at 2 hours and 30 minutes, and given the uncertain waters awaiting any film that is both so long, and clearly aimed at mature adults, its box office prospects will probably leave it behind all those October movies that are at least vaguely set in the 21st century. The Last Duel must wait until streaming equalizes its chances.
Opening weekend: $4 million / Total gross: $12 million
Oh, yeah, and I hear Dune's coming out, too. I predict, oh... $65m total gross. And, say, what's that one all about anyway?