A Perfect Fanfiction Fever Dream
Red, White, and Royal Blue has moved from page to screen, and relations between the U.S. and the UK have never been steamier as the beloved BookTok sensation was brought to life. Adapted from Casey McQuiston’s best-selling novel, the film has been widely anticipated and was released on August 11th on Amazon Prime Video. The story follows two men: Alex, the U.S. president’s son, and Prince Henry of Wales. After causing a global scandal at a prestigious event, both are forced by their families to fix the PR crisis by spending more time together. One thing leads to another, and a classic enemies-to-lovers story is born. Director Matthew Lopez captured the struggle of being in love in the public eye beautifully and did not disappoint in his feature film debut.
Plotting it Out
As previously mentioned, Red, White, and Royal Blue follows Alex and Henry as they try to navigate an unexpected long-distance romance while also struggling with the pressures of being connected to very public and prominent families. As they figure out their own feelings, they also have to take into account who they will affect if they choose to follow their hearts.
The movie generally follows the basic rom-com outline with a predictable yet heartwarming ending. One issue is the pacing of the film. There are many moments that felt rushed, while other scenes drag on for a while. Cutting down on smaller side conversations would have benefitted the overall plot as it would have left more time for the development of the main couple.
Further on the pacing, the first half of the film consists of a lot of montages, which could have been cut down in order to make time for a proper enemies-to-lovers arc. The relationship between Henry and Alex feels slightly rushed. It would have been more interesting to fully understand why they initially dislike each other and see both of them slowly come to terms with their newly developed feelings. Instead, it feels like viewers got a shallow reason as to why Alex dislikes Henery, which is very quickly resolved. We also never got a reason why there was animosity toward Alex from Henry’s side—a small yet important factor in fleshing out these characters and their reasoning for acting a certain way. Some more in-depth background on each character is definitely needed to help understand them and boost their already loveable personalities.
Despite the pacing, the overall tone and style of the film are enjoyable. There is a perfect mix of witty banter, heartfelt moments, and the classic sad moments that are needed in a rom-com, all of which translate well in both the political world of the U.S. and the grandeur of the British Empire. Most of the dialogue is genuinely funny, and there are a lot of great one-liners. Of course, with any rom-com, there are a few cringe-worthy scenes, but those can easily be overlooked when compared to the quick-witted, screwball comedy and dialogue moments. Even though everything was exaggerated to match the film genre, it still feels consistent and true to the world building established by the writer and director. Overall, it is a fun watch with a strong, satisfying ending.
Who Stole The Show?
The true highlight of the film was the two leads. Alex, played by Taylor Zakhar Perez, and Henry, played by Nicholas Galitzine, had off-the-charts chemistry. They brought great depth to their characters and brought them to life. Alex and Henry could not be more opposite in the film, but the actors’ charm and playfulness establish the love story. This was the most important aspect of the film. Of course, to make the love story work, the actors had to work well together, but the film is also telling a story about self-acceptance and overcoming the public’s view. Both leads do a magnificent job in the fun, loving moments but also deliver when the scene demands raw emotion. It’s refreshing to see a film that tackles such important themes with such authenticity and vulnerability, even if it takes place in a setting that not many can relate to. The audience knows that just because they aren’t the president’s child or the prince of a long-lasting monarchy doesn’t mean they can’t empathize with the two leads on screen. This just goes to show how well both actors did in portraying their characters and making their experiences feel universal and relatable.
Other honorable mentions for acting go to Uma Thurman; her accent is a little subpar, but the scenes she has with her on-screen son feel genuine and comforting during certain moments in the story. She also captured the essence of her character; she could actually be president of the United States someday. Secondly, Sarah Shahi delivered every line of dialogue impeccably, showcasing her incredible acting skills and capturing the personality of her character effortlessly. All of her witty remarks and physical presence during scenes shined through, making her character memorable. Her on-screen presence is truly something else; she almost took the spotlight away from the main cast.
The Look and Sound
When looking at any rom-com, one does not pay much attention to the cinematography of each scene. Everyone is too busy with the turmoil of the relationship unfolding on screen. Regardless, Red, White & Royal Blue’s cinematographer, Stephen Goldblatt, does a strong job framing the lead couple perfectly in every scene. The soft lighting in each intimate or emotional scene showcases the strong yet sweet connection forged between Alex and Henry and the rawness of their relationship. Other than that, the couple is mostly shot in natural lighting that accentuates their features and captures each expression perfectly.
There were some standout landscape shots and long shots throughout the film that added to the artistic integrity of the piece, but overall, the main focus was to capture the two leads doing what they do best and showcase the evolution of their relationship. It is an aesthetically appealing film to watch; the sets and location quality were consistent and shot wonderfully, adding to the charm of the characters and the movie as a whole.
The soundtrack did not particularly stand out, except for some Spanish songs that were subtly slipped into the film that showcased Alex’s—and actor Taylor Zakhar Perez’s—biracial identity, adding another layer of depth to the storyline even if it wasn’t as explicitly explored as it could have been. Some song choices could have been swapped out for stronger options to make each scene impactful; there were some moments where the music didn’t quite match the intensity or emotion of the scene, but that is easily overlooked once the next scene begins and draws the audience back into the story.
Rom-Com of the Year?
Red, White & Royal Blue is witty and doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it still conveys an endearing energy and a heartfelt message at its core. No, it’s not an Oscar-winning film, but it’s a perfect feel-good movie about loving others and oneself. It tells an important story about coming to terms with identity in a digestible, light-hearted way that many viewers can relate to and learn from. Some moments and aspects fell short, but in the end, everything was wrapped up beautifully, and all flaws were forgotten.
Red, White & Royal Blue definitely takes the cake (or what’s left of it at least) for standout rom-com of the year and is a must see!
Official Red, White & Royal Blue Prime Video Trailer
Yasmine, a talented intern in TV and film writing, possesses a deep-seated passion for storytelling. She is pursuing her degree in Cinema and Media studies and Creative Writing with a clear objective of becoming a screenwriter. Her primary creative outlets include film, reading, and writing, and she holds Little Women as her favorite movie.