Overwhelmed by the incessant chatter regarding Matthew López’s newest Amazon Prime TV addition, I quickly tuned in for “Red, White & Royal Blue” (2023).
The film is a (mostly) faithful adaptation of Casey McQuiston’s novel of the same name. This steamy romance movie covers the story of the president’s son, Alex Claremont-Diaz (Taylor Zakhar Perez), Britain’s Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine) and the two young elites’ journey from enemies to lovers.
Although the film is quite fun, it has several glaring issues. The film centers on the dialogue between the two central characters, Alex and Henry. While certain lines really hit on paper, they sounded a bit dry when spoken in the film — especially given their lackluster and seemingly forced deliveries.
Fans of the novel may recognize the line “History, huh? Bet we could make some.” In the book, this is one of the many “secret” texts between Henry and Alex. In the context of the book, readers can feel the palpable emotion and tension between the two lovers as they explore their high-stakes homosexual relationship between a British prince and the first son of the United States.
In the film, however, the line appears while Alex and Henry are dancing in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The film does not take the line nearly as seriously as the novel, and it ultimately comes off as corny and oddly kinky. This trend of improperly interpreted lines carries throughout the film, throwing viewers off with random one-liners that feel far too scripted.
Beyond the corny one-liners, the film also features senseless plot points. One scene showcases the young lovers spending the night together when they are interrupted by a presidential staffer and Alex’s friend, Zahra Bankston (Sarah Shahi). As Alex frantically tries to hide Henry, Zahra and the staffer barge into the room. Although this scene is funny, it reflects the film’s larger issue: a lack of passionate acting.
Despite these negatives, “Red, White & Royal Blue” is a fun film as long as you accept that it is a cheesy romantic comedy. It features excellent set design and engaging — albeit cliche — narration.
The different depictions of Buckingham Palace, the White House, Texan schools, a lake house and more all help ground the film in reality. This film plays on many gay romance tropes, and these settings help amplify this effect. Furthermore, the viewer feels involved in the drama of this film, especially during the “texting” scenes.
Admittedly, the characters’ narration often force-fed exposition to the audience, but I found it cute, and it helped me warm up to the characters. I also appreciated the intensity of even the most mundane character interactions. Clearly, the actors are committed to the film’s project, and – for all of “Red, White & Royal Blue’s” weaknesses – one cannot deny that there was frequently palpable chemistry between its characters.
This film is something you watch to laugh and pass time — perhaps when you’re taking a run or having a funny movie night with friends. I loved the happiness of the ending, watching Texas vote blue and the British people rallying in support of Henry’s sexuality. Turning off my typically more objective viewpoint, the strong liberal and happy-go-lucky energy of the movie is nice. I specifically recall loving the inclusion of a strong female president (Uma Thurman) and a POC female prime minister (Sharon D. Clarke).
This isn’t for the film bros, and I did take that into consideration when giving my rating, but “Red, White & Royal Blue” is fun, free and something worth watching, even if you don’t completely rework your schedule for it.