High society sons engage in international romance in Red, White & Royal Blue
The progression of LGBTQ+ romantic comedies in mainstream movies has been relatively slow in the long history of the medium, but once the dam broke a few years ago, the pace has quickened considerably. Films like Love, Simon and Happiest Season set the stage for films like Fire Island and Bros to go even further, and now Red, White & Royal Blue has delivered perhaps the biggest punch to date.
The setup for the film reads just like any number of cheesy Lifetime movies: Prince Henry of England (Nicholas Galitzine) and Alex Claremont-Diaz (Taylor Zakhar Perez), the son of U.S. President Ellen Claremont (Uma Thurman), cause a bit of an international incident when they cause the cake to fall at a royal wedding. Already at odds with each other, they are forced to do a series of public relations sessions together, soon discovering that their feelings for each other are changing.
Of course, a romance between two high-profile people like them is not easy to pull off, especially for Henry given the notoriously conservative nature of the royal family. The two attempt to keep a relationship going by pretending to be good friends, but as any rom-com fan knows, it’s only a matter of time before their subterfuge is revealed…
Directed by Matthew López and written by López and Ted Malawer, the film is pure fantasy in all the best ways. The setup phase is worthy of the biggest eye rolls, but once they get past that, the story only continues to get better. Sure, you have to just go with the idea of a prince and the son of a president being able to avoid public attention, but the goofiness of pairing two people of high social status soon gives way to a great examination of the cost of the relationship for both of them. The relationship itself is treated with dignity, respect, and fun.
This is especially true in the case of Henry and Alex’s more intimate moments. Just as in Bros, there is no hesitation at letting the two men engage in multiple make-out sessions and actual sex scenes that, while not graphic, intimate certain acts with no ambiguity. There is also dialogue with sexual innuendo that makes the film even funnier than it already was.
The film also does a decent job including the secondary story of Ellen Claremont, a Democrat from Texas, running for re-election and having Alex run point on trying to get Texas to flip from red to blue. The implausibility of a female Democrat from Texas becoming president in this day and age, and of her flipping Texas, places the film firmly in the realm of make-believe, but, much like The American President or Dave, they sell it well in the film.
Both Galitzine and Perez are cast extremely well, with Galitzine perfectly embodying the upper crust nature of British royalty and Perez giving off a great cocky American vibe. Most importantly, they have real chemistry, which does more than anything else to make the film work. Thurman is hit-and-miss with her Texas accent, but she’s otherwise solid. Other standouts include Sarah Shahi, Rachel Hilson, and Clifton Collins.
Red, White & Royal Blue breaks out from an early rut to become a charming, interesting, and utterly romantic movie. It plays all the rom-com hits and plays them well, adding in the spice of social commentary to complete the idea of how normal a coupling like this should be to the world.
Red, White & Royal Blue is now streaming on Prime Video.