Red, White & Royal Blue REVIEW – Royally Romantic

Yes, it's cliché and predictable. So what?

Red, White & Royal Blue
Red, White & Royal Blue

There was a brief moment in time when romance book readers couldn’t stop recommending Red, White & Royal Blue. Every single time I asked – or didn’t ask – for a book recommendation, that was the title everyone couldn’t wait to name drop. And having read the book, I understand why. It’s an enemies-to-lovers romance done right, and it’s also very sexy. When I heard a movie was in development, I was of course skeptical, as every book reader usually is. And while I do think the movie streamlined quite a fair bit of the storylines in the novel, and made most of the supporting characters basically redundant, there’s still enough there to make this a fun, breezy watch.

Alex Claremont-Diaz (Taylor Zakhar Perez) can’t for the life of him figure out why Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine) hates him so much. He completely dismissed him at an event years ago, when Alex was new to the political world – Alex’s mom is the president of the United States FYI – and now, he can barely bring himself to acknowledge his presence. In attempting to speak to Henry at his brother’s wedding, the pair get into a bit of a scuffle, and cause the entire wedding cake to collapse upon them. After this PR nightmare, the pair are forced to spend time together so as to alleviate the rumours that they hate each other. Soon, the animosity begins to slowly dissipate, and they become good friends.

In the book, Alex and Henry exchange many emails and messages with each other, and unfortunately the film is unable to replicate that same energy on screen. The film finds cute ways to visually present their exchanges, but we don’t get to feel the intimacy so apparent in those messages to each other. So when they start developing feelings for each other, it can feel a little too fast and half-baked because we don’t quite understand why. The leap will be harder for those who haven’t read the book, since I was able to bridge the missing context with what I know from the book, while those just watching the movie would feel like there’s a bit of a gap there.

The best thing about Red, White & Royal Blue are the romantic leads. Perez, who previously starred in The Kissing Booth movies, is so charismatic and likeable. He has great romantic chemistry with Galitzine, and the best parts of the movie are when the pair share scenes together.

Galitzine has starred in a string of films that have received divisive reception, like Cinderella, Purple Hearts and The Craft. Having watched all those films, I do think he always delivers what he needs to in those roles. He’s great at playing a romantic lead, which is apparent here as well, since he gives Henry’s characterisation so much more depth just with his acting alone. You can feel Henry’s terrible loneliness, as well as his fear of truly falling in love with someone, especially when his life as a public figure means that he can never live a life of his own choosing. This man needs better material for the kind of range he has, so hopefully he’ll have more opportunities to show what he’s capable of.

The romantic set pieces are pretty memorable. Director Matthew Lopez likes to turn the camera’s focus to Henry and Alex’s hands, and while it’s not the most unique way to stage a love scene, I like that it feels all schmaltzy and sweet even when we can clearly see the palpable animalistic lust both men have for each other. Rom-coms are traditionally known for holding back on the lust, marked by a sense of restraint – like Mr. Darcy’s hand flex in Pride and Prejudice. So it’s nice that we can have a rom-com with a balance of both.

Also, that urgent sense of desire that both Henry and Alex have for each other is an integral part of the storyline, which allows for the cliche rom-com ending. It might be too fairy tale for some, but I think there’s something quite beautiful about being able to embrace the person you love for all the world to see.

Review screener provided.

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Red, White & Royal Blue
The movie is as charming as it is because of its romantic leads. Perez and Galitzine have fantastic chemistry, with enough romantic sizzle to light up our screens.