“The Last Duel”: The film was about the last Royal sanctioned duel in France in the 14th century. It was fight to the death, and the philosophy was that the one to die was the one in the wrong – that God would save the one in the right. The duel was between Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver), two former friends who had fallen out at some time in the past. De Carrouges’s wife, Marguerite (Jodie Corner), had accused Le Gris of rape while her husband was away. It also transpired that if Marguerite has wrongly accused Le Gris, she would also be killed.
We found the film confronting, thought provoking and boring. There was a scene with Marguerite’s mother-in-law where she was told to put up with it and get on with life. All women were raped and they had to accept that it was a fact of life. It really brought home that in many ways, the world has not changed for many women. Because the film showed the story from three different perspectives, meaning lots of repetition, it did become a bit boring. This repetition idea was not bad, it just did not come off on this occasion, as the differences were very subtle. For example in the rape scene (a bit confronting in itself), from Le Gris’s perspective there was little screaming; from Marguerite’s perspective, there was a lot more, but everything else was identical. Every scene was identical except for the screaming. We rated it as 2.5/5.
“No time to Die”: In this new James Bond film, James had retired, and a new agent had been assigned as 007 – this time a female agent. James is contacted by his old friend from the CIA to help track down a kidnapped scientist, Obruchev. James was pitted up against the new 007, Nomi, in trying to find Obruchev. He had developed a new biological weapon that targeted people with specific DNA. Theoretically this meant only the selected people would die. Of course, James finds the final villain, destroys the weapon and the world is saved. But there were several differences from previous James Bond films.
Earlier films started with James Bond wrapping up an assignment. This time the opening scene was of a man dressed in white crossing the snow to a house where there was a child and mother alone. It was not James; it was a man in a mask (Phantom of the Opera style) who proceeded to kill the mother and chase the child. And then we had a different 007. The regular characters M and Q where played by different actors, and particularly M had a different approach to his job. James has a new love in his life but is tricked into not trusting her and leaves. When they finally reunite, he discovers she has a child (was it his?). Villains from former films are destroyed along the way.
Overall, an entertaining film with lots of action. It is a long film, but generally does not drag. Few of the scenes could have been shortened. Sub stories could have been removed, but this would have changed the dynamic of the film. We rated it as 3/5.
This was the last class for 2021, and we are looking forward to meeting again in February to discuss some new films, with the class under a new name – “Film Discussion group” which better reflects the way the class works.