Red, White & Royal Blue movie review (2023)
In this enchanting adaptation of Casey McQuiston’s beloved 2019 LGBTQ+ romantic novel, two charismatic and privileged young men, Alex (Taylor Zakhar Perez), the spirited scion of the US president, and Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine), a charming royal from the United Kingdom, cross paths at a high-profile event, sparking a comedic yet passionate clash that ends in a chaotic encounter with a five-tier royal cake. Their cake-covered squabble quickly becomes tabloid fodder, leading to a calculated attempt to mend the diplomatic relationship between the US and UK by feigning camaraderie. However, as their staged efforts unfold, their connection deepens beyond expectations.
At its core, “Red, White & Royal Blue” thrives on the anticipated dynamics of a classic romance, as evident from its opening scene where the strapping young men’s initial friction sets the stage for what’s to come. Directed and co-written by Matthew López, the film brings to life a whirlwind romantic escapade that transcends even the grandeur of a pride parade. Although some viewers may wish for more time to savor the scorching chemistry between the leads, the narrative tends to fast-forward through montages, hastening their romantic journey towards the impending conflict.
Amidst this rush, the film does provide tender moments that deserve appreciation, such as the candid discussions between the characters about intimate matters like their roles in the bedroom and their experiences with LGBTQ+ dating apps. These scenes underscore the genuine portrayal of their evolving relationship. Still, some aspects of the plot adhere to familiar storytelling tropes. The British royal family is depicted as traditional and reserved, while the American president’s family exudes a contemporary flair. Prince Henry grapples with self-discovery, burdened by expectations, while Alex embraces his role as a change-maker eager to enact positive change. Notably, a heartwarming and humorously endearing scene unfolds in the Oval Office as Alex comes out to his President mother (Uma Thurman).
The film shines a spotlight on its two charismatic heroes, who effortlessly captivate both screen space and audience attention. Their magnetic performances drive the narrative forward, occasionally overshadowing even established actors like Uma Thurman. Director López opts for a straightforward storytelling approach, prioritizing authenticity over melodrama even in the face of adversity. The resolution of conflicts is swift, though at times conveniently so.
While the film sometimes ventures into clichéd territory, “Red, White & Royal Blue” remains steadfast in its ability to charm. It emerges as a romcom with a genuine heart, following its own unique rhythm and tone. Though it may not redefine queer storytelling, it brings its own delightful melody to the genre. If you’re seeking a heartwarming modern fairy tale featuring dashing protagonists embracing every opportunity for affection, or even creating opportunities when necessary, this film is a satisfying choice. It might not be a trailblazing anthem for a queer revolution, but it offers a classic tale of romance with a jubilant conclusion. And after all, what’s wrong with a happy ending?
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