The Last Duel Writer Talks Movie's Feminist Perspective

Nicole Holofcener, co-writer and producer of The Last Duel, discusses the film's feminist perspective and how she tackled the story's controversial subject matter. The film, directed by Ridley Scott and based on a 2004 book of the same name, tells the story of the last judicially recognized duel ever fought in France. The duel comes about after Marguerite (Jodie Comer) alleges that, while her husband Jean (Matt Damon) was away, Jacques (Adam Driver) raped her. The film explores each of the three main characters' unique points of view on the allegation that precipitated the titular "last duel" with the promise that, should Marguerite's husband lose the duel, she will be burned alive for spreading misinformation.

Holofcener is best known for her writing and directing work on smaller films, including Enough Said, Friends With Money, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and Please Give. Outside of film, Holofcener is also experienced in TV directing, having directed episodes of Orange Is The New Black, Inside Amy Schumer, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Parks and Recreation. The screenplay for The Last Duel was co-written by Ben Affleck, who also stars in the film, and Damon.

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In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Holofcener addresses the initial backlash to the announcement of The Last Duel and explains that, although the film was always written with a feminist perspective in mind, the production went to great lengths to ensure the heavy subject matter was dealt with appropriately. After the controversy started, the production worked with #MeToo groups and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to iron out some of the film's "tricky parts." Ultimately, Holofcener says, the film is about Marguerite and her struggles. Read Holofcener's full comment below:

"It’s a really sensitive time. I think people didn’t know the angle we were going to be coming from with this movie—that it actually is a very feminist movie. We immediately engaged some #MeToo groups and Geena Davis’s group to advise us, to listen to us. We listened to them; they saw screenings; they pointed out some tricky parts. We addressed them. We really wanted to get it right. We don’t want controversy. We just want people to watch this wonderful movie and be moved by it and be excited by it. It’s a huge sword-fight movie, but it does have, in the end, a really important story about this woman that we wanted to tell."

While some of the film's marketing may focus more on the medieval warfare aspects of the story, Holofcener's comments clarify that Marguerite's unique perspective and the allegations she makes are at the center of The Last Duel. Since the film deals with sensitive subject matter, engaging with #MeToo groups and the Geena Davis Institute seems like the right move. The Geena Davis Institute, a non-profit research organization, has completed several significant studies that analyze how women are portrayed in movies and TV, down to how many lines of dialogue and how much screen time they have compared to their male counterparts, with the ultimate goal of creating equal representation for women in media.

Early reviews for The Last Duel have been mostly positive thus far, suggesting the film's feminist perspective and the work that went into ensuring that weighty issues like rape and systemic misogyny are dealt with appropriately have paid off. While some audiences criticize films for heavy-handed messaging or overt social commentary taking precedence over pure entertainment, perhaps The Last Duel is proof that the two values are not mutually exclusive. The film has not yet been officially released and has thus not been exposed to the general movie-going public. Still, it will be interesting to see where The Last Duel falls in Ridley Scott's legendary filmography and whether or not audiences will respond to the film's unique feminist perspective.

More: The Last Duel News And Updates: Everything We Know

Source: Vanity Fair

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