#FilmFebruary: Dear Mr Scott

Photo credit: Patrick Redmond / 20th Century Studios

Thank you for blaming the flop of your recent filmThe Last Duel, on millennials. It annoyed me at the time, as you had fallen into the classic trap of confusing Gen Z for millennials (those of us in the latter group are ever so slightly older) – apparently it’s easily done, but that doesn’t make it any less tiresome. In your opinion, “audiences who were brought up on these fucking cell phones” can’t cope with learning anything from sources other than Facebook. What that has to do with watching a film, I’m not sure – I’d tentatively suggest that you wanted to mention diminished attention spans (not scientifically proven), given the 155-minute running time of the film, but your mouth went on a bit of a diversion. (Do correct me if I’m wrong.) Either way, this hissy fit of yours did make me curious about the film – though I didn’t put my money on the line, instead I awaited its arrival on Disney+.

And I’m so glad I held off.

Firstly, an all-white cast in 2021 – are you fucking kidding me?! There is no excuse for it, though I’d put money on you trying to use ‘historical accuracy’, which simply won’t wash. Watching all-white casts is boring. We don’t want to see it. If you truly do want to engage millennials and/or Gen Z, I’d suggest thinking about that. (Maybe check out Hakuna MaChatter if you need some guidance.)

On a related note, what was going on with the accents? Whether American or English, the actors didn’t seem to know how they should be speaking. I couldn’t fathom what the reasoning behind this was; it didn’t signify where in France they came from in any way, it didn’t depend on whose viewpoint we see the story from, and (as I alluded to) it didn’t even matter what the actors’ own accents were. It might not seem important, but when there’s no logic it becomes incredibly distracting.

Photo credit: Jessica Forde / 20th Century Studios

This is a story that a woman (or a team of women) should be in charge of telling. I’m presuming that Nicole Holofcener was in charge of writing Marguerite’s chapter, with Matt Damon & Ben Affleck taking on the men’s voices, but it would actually be more interesting to see a woman take on the whole thing. A female director, also, might have made this the #MeToo story you seem to think it already is; the lack of fairness in the system may be acknowledged, but the film still glorifies the male ‘victory’ and the man having to save the woman’s life. Though it did make me angry at the punishment Marguerite would have been subjected to had her husband lost the duel (whether that’s factually accurate or not), but what I took from that is that women today should feel grateful for the current state of affairs – and all the so-called progress that’s been made since the 14th century.

I wasn’t thrilled about the rape being depicted twice and in full – surely there’s a more creative way of getting each person’s story across? The gratuitous female nudity in multiple scenes of orgies just makes this worse. (This is where more women being involved on the creative side of things would have come in handy.)

Finally – it’s way too fucking long, mate. It only gets interesting come chapter three, which is largely thanks to Jodie Comer outshining everyone else in the film (as usual), and by its nature is rather repetitive. The odd instance does allow you to see a scene from an alternative perspective, but largely it doesn’t work to its full potential; it’s a wonder I didn’t start mouthing along by the third iteration. I perked up a bit when I clicked that Alex Lawther’s king was the one also known as Charles the Mad, but even little glimpses of this character couldn’t stop me from regularly checking my watch. That’s not down to attention span.

I hope that’s cleared things up a bit for you with regards to the failure of The Last Duel.

A Woman (you should listen to us more)

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