Critics Slam Damon & Affleck’s Tone-Deaf New Script Centred On Sexual Assault

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are set to write and star in a new film based on their first screenplay collaboration since Good Will Hunting. Deadline reports it’ll be called The Last Duel, and it’s centred around two men fighting after the rape of a woman in 14th century France.

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There’s a lot going on here, but here’s the gist: Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. reports that Affleck and Damon teamed up with Can You Ever Forgive Me? screenwriter Nicole Holofcener to adapt Eric Jager‘s book The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France.

As for the synopsis, the script reportedly sees knight Jean de Carrouges accuse his squire Jacques Le Gris of raping his wife Margerite de Carrouges while the former man was in battle. They appeal to the King of France to settle their dispute by mortal combat, with one caveat: if de Carrouges is defeated in the duel, his wife will put to death for her ‘dishonesty.’

The film will reportedly be helmed by director Ridley Scott, who last teamed with with Damon for The Martian.

News of the project has prompted heated discussion online, with critics questioning Affleck and Damon’s decision to lead a film centred around a woman’s trauma.

“I’m almost impressed by the clueless unpleasantness of Matt Damon & Ben Affleck’s new movie,” The Daily Dot’s Gavia Baker-Whitelaw wrote on Twitter.

Melissa Silverstein, founder of industry journal Women And Hollywood, said “Every time i think we make some forward motion, the shit rolls down the hill again.”

“How does a story about a woman getting raped belong to three men?” asked critic Yolanda Machado. 

Both stars have bristled against the ongoing cultural discussion about the representation and treatment of women in Hollywood, but The Last Duel seems to represent a creative project enmeshed with those very themes.

There’s no known date for when The Last Duel will enter production.

If you would like to talk to a counsellor about rape, sexual assault or domestic violence, give the people over at 1800 RESPECT a call on 1800 737 732.