LGBT Movies: Red, White & Royal Blue (2023)

Alex, son of a U.S. President, and Henry, Prince of Wales, can’t stand each other. When a public dispute causes scandal, they are forced to pretend they are friends. Red, White & Royal Blue blends the premise of a Hallmark romcom with the softcore sex of a raunchier work. The screenplay streamlines Casey McQuiston’s novel, removing most of the conflict in the process. What’s left is a tasty piece of junk food that left me hungry for a meal.

Taylor Zakhar Perez is miscast as Alex. He’s a 30-something playing a 20-something who acts like a bratty teen. He can handle snarky banter. When it’s time for a heartfelt speech his wooden delivery is cringe worthy. Nicholas Galitzine is stronger as the brooding Henry. His inner struggles dance across his anguished face. The film wisely keeps the camera on him during Perez’s key monologues. Both men are gorgeous and throw themselves into their intimate scenes. They may not be soulmates but they convince as lovers.

Producer Greg Berlanti indulges in luxury casting. Uma Thurman gives a campy performance as the bemused U.S. President. Stephen Fry lacks menace as the stern British monarch. That leaves Juan Castano (The Inheritance) to perform antagonist duties as a sleazy journalist. In smaller roles Rachel Hilson (Love, Victor) brings warmth as Alex’s confidante. Sarah Shahi sputters with rage as the overworked Deputy Chief of Staff.  

McQuiston began writing the novel in 2016. Its Democratic optimism reads differently in 2023. It’s set in a world where a female president with a queer bi-racial son can find common ground with red state voters. The film races through the political campaign scenes like its embarrassed by them. This makes the improbable climax fall flat. I’d recommend the film to fans of Love, Victor or Hallmark’s The Holiday Sitter. If you’re looking for something more sincere try Heartstopper. If you want something sharper check out Bros and Fire Island. Or wait for season three of Young Royals.

How to Get Away With Mordor’s review of the novel is here. You can find more of my reviews on The AvocadoLetterboxd and Serializd. My podcast, Rainbow Colored Glasses, can be found here.