Red, White & Royal Blue (2023), directed by Matthew Lopez, is based on Casey McQuinston’s bestselling novel by the same name. It follows the story of Prince Henry (played by Nicholas Galitzine),  the second to the throne after Prince Philip, his elder brother, in the English monarchy, who falls head over heels for Alex Claremont-Diaz (played by Taylor Zakhar Perez), the American President’s son. Although both these public figures have met previously, when they meet again at Prince Philip’s wedding, they don’t seem quite well disposed towards one another. Unfortunately for them, Henry and Alex capture the next day’s media headlines with a wedding cake fiasco.

Now, the two must make amends by smiling and posing together to straighten the international relations between Britain and America. Soon, Henry and Alex start emailing each other, progressing to texts, calls, kisses, and steamy intimate moments, slowly falling head over heels in love. On the other hand, Alex’s mom, Ellen Claremont (played by Uma Thurman), is contesting for re-election, and Alex wants to contribute to her election campaigns, while Prince Henry must deal with the weight of his royal bloodline and come out of the closet to the King, His Majesty. It is the story of love against all odds that almost has a giddy, fan-fiction feeling to it; the latter makes for all the charm in this faithful Red, White & Royal Blue movie adaptation.

In one of the scenes, Prince Henry tells Alex that his father used to bring him to the museum in the early morning hours before the museum was thrown open to the audience as it was a smart way of getting away from all the flashing cameras. It is bound to remind you of Anne Hathaway’s delectable portrayal of Mia in The Princess Diaries (2004) when the teenage princess’s paparazzi pictures became a source of disappointment for her grandmother, The Queen of Genovia.

Decades may have passed between these portrayals, but the concern remains the same – the public image of famous personalities and the encroachment of the press upon their private lives. Besides, who can forget the sustaining intrigue around the life and death of Princess Diana, the late wife of King Charles of England? This persistent anxiety is the only thing that makes these larger-than-life fictional characters feel so close to reality. Both Alex and Henry do a good job of bringing this palpable anxiety to the screen.

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Red, White & Royal Blue (2023) Review
Uma Thurman and Taylor Zakhar Perez in Red, White & Royal Blue (2023)

This is not only the story of two young men in love but also the consequences of their passion that can rock the parliaments of two nation-states across the Atlantic, with reverberating effects in international politics. Perhaps, because of the grandness of this romance, you (as the audience) are constantly expecting no less than mammoth scandals and socio-political conspiracies to give rise to a whirlwind in their lives. Sadly, the movie and the book choose to focus on the inner turmoils of the protagonists only. The resolutions come too soon and in quick succession, nullifying the drama promised to us by the scope of their romance.

Galitzine and Perez are a totally swoon-worthy on-screen pair when they are cracking jokes and flirting with each other. Some may even say that they are ticking some of the boxes that straight people tend to stereotype gay and bisexual men as. It is when the emotional intensity of the romance is dialed up that their performances falter, making their declarations of love too sappy to sit through.

Writers Lopez and Ted Malawer have taken care to include some witty pop culture references, including how Prince Henry chooses to introduce himself as the ‘Spare’ prince to the throne, ‘Spare’ being the name of the controversial first-person memoir by Prince Harry (the possible real-life inspiration for Prince Henry) that was published earlier this year. But it is difficult to oversee the monotonous, repetitive jargon of love that these young men weave to court each other, making this a queer rom-com that has all its conventional tropes in place but one that fails to rise above mediocrity.

Pop culture is obsessed with intersectional representation, and rightly so. Red, White & Royal Blue (2023) imagines an alternative reality with a female Republican American President and a Black female British Prime Minister. It also throws in some token racial representations to help the story fit perfectly into the popular imagination. I am not complaining; I am only saying that the scope of this plot offers up a lot of possibilities that the filmmakers fail to make complete use of. If you wish to watch a passable rom-com this weekend, Red, White & Royal Blue (2023) is your best bet! You can watch it on Amazon Prime Video now.

Read More: 20 Important Queer Movies Of The 20th Century

Red, White & Royal Blue (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia
Red, White & Royal Blue (2023) Movie Cast: Taylor Zakhar Perez, Nicholas Galitzine, Uma Thurman, Stephen Fry, Sarah Shahi, Ellie Bamber
Red, White & Royal Blue (2023) Movie Genre: Romance/Comedy, Runtime: 1h 52m
Where to watch Red, White & Royal Blue

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