If there’s one thing that the #MeToo movement and its subsequent reckonings have made clear — disturbing as it may be — it’s that these difficult conversations apparently haven’t produced a universally agreed-upon definition of the difference between sex and rape. How drunk is too drunk to consent? When does a power imbalance make consent impossible? Is surreptitiously removing a condom during sex a form of battery, as per a new California law?

If it’s unnerving that a modern society hasn’t resolved these questions to everyone’s satisfaction, it’s in part because not all of these lines are easy to draw. But as Ridley Scott’s new movie, “The Last Duel,” suggests, it’s also because for centuries, people have struggled to confront the source of these disagreements directly.

“The Last Duel” is rooted in late 14th-century French history. Rural professional soldier Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and more urbane courtier Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) are friends who fall out after Le Gris becomes the favorite of their liege lord, Pierre d’Alençon (Ben Affleck). Dislike becomes a deadly enmity when the wife of de Carrouges, Marguerite (Jodie Comer), accuses Le Gris of raping her. After d’Alençon dismisses the charges in a summary trial, de Carrouges insists the matter be settled by a judicial duel to the death.

Though the setting is distant, the story Scott and writers Damon, Affleck and Nicole Holofcener tell is uncomfortably familiar. When Marguerite tells de Carrouges that she was raped, at first he doesn’t believe her. Marguerite’s best friend brands her a liar, while Marguerite’s mother-in-law questions whether the pursuit of justice is worthwhile. D’Alençon initially throws out the charge.

The women who came forward to accuse figures such as R. Kelly, Harvey Weinstein and Larry Nassar of trafficking, rape and sexual abuse did not risk literal incineration at the hands of the state, as Marguerite does if the outcome of the duel suggests she has brought a false accusation. But watching “The Last Duel” makes the past and present feel more similar than a gap of 635 years might suggest.

Online harassment campaigns have been subbed in for the pyre. Long-standing backlogs in processing rape kits and indifferent police officers have replaced the arbitrary judgment of lords like d’Alençon. Instead of the insanity of judicial duels whose outcomes are thought to be determined by God, we have opaque college disciplinary proceedings.

What makes “The Last Duel” more than a tract, though, is the way it suggests that the characters’ understanding of what has passed between them cannot be reconciled — and how it explains that unbridgeable gap.

“The Last Duel” is told in three chapters, each of which recounts events from the perspective of one protagonist.

What’s intensely disturbing about the juxtaposition between Le Gris and Marguerite’s experiences of the rape turns out to be not how different they are, but how similar. In Le Gris’s own memory, he barges into Marguerite’s house by way of a ruse. He pursues her up to her bedroom even when she asks him to leave, forcing the door open when she tries to close it. He tells her, “If you run, I will only chase you.” He pushes her onto the bed even as she says no. And afterward, Le Gris warns Marguerite not to tell anyone, on the grounds that her husband may retaliate by killing her.

To Le Gris, Marguerite’s refusal of his advances, and her desperate cries once his attack begins, are “the customary protests” of a gentlewoman, not proof that he assaulted her. He persists in this conviction until the end, swearing his innocence on the damnation of his soul.

How could he believe such a thing? To a modern audience, Le Gris is obviously a rapist and his insistence that the encounter was romantic is grotesque. But “The Last Duel” takes viewers through Le Gris’s sexual education, one informed by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun’s “Roman de la Rose” and the louche environment at d’Alençon’s court. When he chases Marguerite around the table in her bedroom, he’s just replicating the encounters that he and d’Alençon treated as games.

“The Last Duel” sides with Marguerite on the deep moral question of whether she was raped. But the film is more than a tract precisely because it also makes so clear why Le Gris is unable to relinquish his understanding of what he did to Marguerite: to do so would be to give up on everything he believes about his own decency.

Achieving a common definition of rape and a shared understanding of consent won’t end sexual violence: There will always be people who know that a thing is wrong and do it anyway.

But from the distance of history, “The Last Duel” makes clear that assuming we all share the same ideas about sex and violence is dangerous. Unless we look closely at where our visions of romance, sexual enthusiasm and consent come from — be that source pornography, Hollywood or our own families — the centuries of shattering violence that preceded us offer a grim preview of what’s to come.