Written by Nynoshka Vazquez Suazo
The movie adaptation of the beloved novel by Casey McQuiston, Red, White & Royal Blue, was highly anticipated. Fans were filled with concerns that the leading men would lack of chemistry or it would fall short of the book. Well, everyone was wrong.
Red, White & Royal Blue follows the forbidden enemies-to-lovers romance of the Prince of England, Henry (Nicholas Galitzine), and the U.S. President’s son, Alex (Taylor Zakhar Perez). Talk about a power couple. They struggle to figure out whether their hearts should belong to their countries or to each other, as their relationship would affect everything, including their positions, and the positions their families hold.
Firstly, to touch upon the “lack of chemistry” concern. The actors’ chemistry is perfect for the story they’re telling. These are two individuals figuring their sexualities out in the public eye. Regardless, they find ways to be together, happy. Henry is a golden retriever. His giggles and soft smiles for Alex made my heart melt. While Alex gave off an, “I’m too cool for school” vibe, which would instantly fade when he was with Henry. Their attraction to each other and longing for a life where they didn’t have to hide rings through every scene. The sexual tension is clear from the moment they are introduced.
Their relationship blossoms from long-distance conversations on the phone—which in today’s age is extremely relatable. Today, meeting someone organically is so rare. Most of the time, relationships flourish from back-to-back texts and spontaneous butterfly-inducing Facetime calls. I saw myself in them, smiling every time the phone dings, and dreading having to hang up. Seeing Alex get angsty over not hearing from Henry for days made me silently say, “Now you know how I feel.”
The scene during Alex’s New Year’s Eve party is what really got me invested in this film and the relationship. They share a moment where the lights dim, everyone else on the dance floor gets low, and they are the only two standing, facing each other. It perfectly encompasses what it feels like to be so inexplicably attached to someone. The rest of the soundtrack, however, was slightly disappointing. Let’s face it, “Bad Reputation” is in every film involving an American in England, so let’s switch it up from now on.
The casting, on the other hand, couldn’t be better. The leading men have been two I’ve watched for years, (Taylor, I was rooting for you in The Kissing Booth 2), they match each other in the most hopeless romantic, idealistic, opposites attract kind of way. Madam President couldn’t have been better chosen. Uma Thruman is the picture of elegance and power, but brings a sense of vulnerability that you wouldn’t typically find in a President role. The relationship between her and Alex comes first over being President.
Sarah Shahi as Zahra, Alex’s friend and handler, is one of the most underrated actresses to date. In all honesty, Zahra became my favorite character because of her. She’s funny, witty, and intelligent, and takes no shit, an admirable trait to have. Her character’s relationship with Alex feels sisterly, which makes it so much more enjoyable to watch when they’re together.
I said this before in my reviews for Freeridge and recently in my review of Season 2 of Heartstopper, but the importance of LGBTQ+ representation is evident here in the way Red, White & Royal Blue explores bisexual visibility and the process of coming out. “The B is not silent,” says Ellen to Alex when he comes out to her and opens up about his relationship with the Prince. She couldn’t be more right. With Henry, we see him struggle to come out to his family due to fears of disappointment and not being accepted not just by his family but also his country. More media needs to represent this, the strength and bravery it takes, and the understanding that not everyone’s story is the same.
Red, White & Royal Blue is a hopeless romantic’s dream film. Hopefully, this won’t be the end of their story.