One of the most satisfying trends over the last 2 years has been the reemergence of the feature film rom-com. For many years the genre was relegated to the world of made for TV movies (MOTW) and usually of the squeaky clean variety (which of course I love and adore and cover on my podcast Hallmarkies) especially at Christmas. Partly due to the popularity of these MOTW films we have seen more feature film length rom-coms and we are starting to see rom-coms made for more niche audiences such as LGBTQ rom-coms. We have a near-perfect example of such a film with the new release of the delightful Red, White & Royal Blue. I am low-key obsessed with this film and highly recommend it to anyone who can handle its R rated content.
The film is based on the steamy but delicious novel (ad) by Casey McQuiston and it is a classic enemies to lovers story but told with nearly flawless execution. Taylor Zakhar Perez plays Alex the son of the US President and Nicholas Galitzine plays Henry the 2nd son British prince. At the start of the film Alex is questioning and discovers himself to be bisexual and Henry is closeted gay man. They begin hating each other because of an incident they had at a party years before. After a flair-up at the royal wedding they are forced to spend time together and ‘pretend’ to be friends and all this forced proximity sparks begin to fly.
There are so many things that work in this film but let’s start with the incredible chemistry between Perez and Galitzine. They are absoloutely perfect with each other, and I was rooting for them from the beginning. Enemies to lovers is a lot harder to pull off than people might think. It’s easy to make the characters too hateful and unlikable, so we don’t care about them finding love or getting together, but here the 2 actors work, and I bought them from frame one.
I also have to give director and screenwriter Matthew Lopez a ton of credit for adapting the McQuiston’s novel with a panache that reminded me of the great romantic comedies of the past. The witty banter between our leads is the kind of repertoire Nora Ephron would have written and been a fan of. Combined with the chemistry, the back and forth between Alex and Henry make it a movie I have already rewatched multiple times and will continue to do so for many years to come.
Red, White & Royal Blue is a steamy movie so it won’t be for everyone, but I think they kept it all in good taste and since I liked the couple so much I was fine with it. Since Henry is a closeted character the film can also be moving as we follow his journey to accepting himself and feeling like he is worthy of being loved by someone like Alex (and that the people will accept that love.) Both Perez and Galitzine are up for the more dramatic sections and it all felt believable to what a prince and the son of a president might experience.
Aside from a wonky accent by Uma Thurman (playing the president) I loved the entire supporting cast. I particularly enjoyed Sarah Shahi as Zahra, the president’s main campaign manager. She is such a funny, beautiful actress and I hope she gets more work after this role because she deserves it. Clifton Collins Jr and Rachel Hilson are also wonderful in their supporting roles.
There is a bit of fantasy in the film with the democrats ‘flipping’ Texas, which is a long way off but the film largely uses politics as a backdrop for Alex and not as messaging platform. We just need to buy that Alex is the son of a democratic president running for re-election and we certainly do.
It might sound crazy to some that a movie like Red, White & Royal Blue is my favorite movie of 2023 but it’s hard to overstate how happy it made me. It is so well crafted, swoonworthy and endearing. It is a totally winning and wonderful romantic comedy that anyone who loves the genre will enjoy. Anyone who loves movies should enjoy it. It’s that good.
Tomorrow check out Hallmarkies Podcast for full recap with my friend Joe of this wonderful film.
10 out of 10