Tuesday 22 August 2023


Everyone's going nuts over Amazon Prime's Red, White & Royal Blue the gay rom-com based on Casey McQuiston's best-selling book of the same name. The premise: an enemies-to-friends-to-lovers story in which the Romeos in question are, respectively, the son of the first female President of the United States and the second (and therefore 'spare') son of the King of England.

It's not difficult to see why it's a hit: it's quirky and, obviously, 'queerky'; it's corny, cute and sweetish (though mercifully not over-sugared); it's fluffy, fuzzy and funny – if quite a long way short of Richard-Curtis-style comedy. And, in case you wondered, its lead actors (Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzineare) are unashamed eye-candy-men and their relationship is... well...HOT. And I mean hot in a way that future seasons of Heartstopper cannot (and absolutely shouldn't) think of trying to emulate.
However, the high-octane sexiness is craftily filtered through a golden lens of innocence, so that the messiness of lust and desire are neatly neutralised by the honest-to-goodness purity of true love's dream.
If the film is 'about' anything, it's a hotch-potch of musings about Politics and Protocols, Duty, Family and Country and what happens when they impinge on individual choice and personal happiness.
Matthew López's direction is workmanlike – which is a compliment rather than a criticism, because it never gets in the way of the storytelling. The supporting cast (including Uma Thurman as POTUS) are good-to-excellent with the notable exception of Stephen Fry's toe-curling cameo as the King of England, which is self-consciously awkward and, frankly, both miscast and misplayed – although, thankfully, for only one scene towards the end of the movie!
The problem with Red, White & Royal Blue (and, I'm sorry, but there is a problem) is simply that these fairy-tale kingdom versions of White and Buck Houses and are burdened by too many attempts to draw (or imply) parallels with characters already familiar to viewers of The Crown
The 'Let's Pretend' Britain found here could have been more convincingly sold to us had it strayed into a more Ruritanian representation of privilege, position, pomp-and-circumstance instead of employing character names like Philip, Beatrice and, especially, Prince Henry – better known as Harry – which have totally misleading implications of satire that really does not serve this slight but entertaining story of the romance between Britain's Prince Charming and Washington's Mr Disarming.

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