Matt Damon became an honorary Irishman during the early days of the Covid lockdown last year when he and his family stayed in Ireland for a few months where filming was taking place for his movie "The Last Duel".
Production shut down, the Damons chilled and became part of the local scene in the tiny Dublin suburb of Dalkey where they rented a house and did normal people things like grocery shopping and going to the beach…all while being pleasant and obliging to the people they met. Heck, he even did some interviews with local Irish outlets, and The New York Times thought his time quarantining was so noteworthy that a reporter did a story on it.
"The Last Duel", also starring Damon’s BFF Ben Affleck, eventually finished filming earlier this year – counties Tipperary, Dublin and Meath providing lots of backdrop – and had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival last week, but the reviews are pretty blah so far. The medieval film set in France in the late 1300s is “concocted” and “lacks the satisfying dramatic clarity of an old movie,” said the critic at Variety who didn’t totally dismiss it either, saying the storytelling is “heady and sensual.”
TheWrap.com also had issues with the film. “What’s frustrating about The Last Duel is a sudden pivot about an hour in that divides the film into two halves: meaningful and mediocre, ambiguous and pointless… Despite the tonal and narrative inconsistencies, the performances are consistently impressive.”
And here’s The Guardian’s take: “By the time the film gets round to showing its hand as an episode of Medieval #MeToo, it has numbed us with so much flash and fustian that the heart of the story has almost been drowned.”
Given that it’s a Damon-Affleck production directed by the famous Ridley Scott, "The Last Duel" will probably fare well when it opens in theaters only on October 15. But if it doesn’t, Damon can always consider his time in Ireland well-spent. Just ask Bono, his neighbor in Dalkey, who spoke to GQ magazine for a profile on Damon.
"I've lived in this village, or next to this village, for 30 years -- this f***** is there for three months and they make him the king of Dalkey! I mean, it's unbelievable," U2 frontman Bono joked about his friend for many years. "He's caught in some kind of local photoshoot with a SuperValu plastic bag, and the rumor that he's carrying cans, and suddenly he's got all this credibility that some of us just are incapable of ever achieving. He’s beloved! I mean, there’ll be a statue of him there.”