It starts with a cake scandal. When Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President, attends the wedding of the elder British prince, there is a scuffle with Henry, the younger prince, at the celebration in Buckingham Palace. The two have met a few times before and don’t like each other.
Alex finds Henry “completely conceited”, Henry thinks Alex is annoying and uncultured. After several glasses of alcohol, Alex makes a mishap – and the two brawlers are promptly buried under several outrageously expensive layers of buttercream. Perfect fodder for the tabloids and Instagram!
Ellen, Alex’s mom, is not happy about this international incident. She is fighting for re-election as President. Alex needs to straighten that out. So he flies back to London to fool the public into believing he has a close friendship with Henry. And lo and behold: Between many small malices, which the two throw at the pretty heads with increasing pleasure, the two young men develop sympathy for each other – and soon much more than that.
Ad | Scroll to read more
It would be fairly easy to dismiss the Amazon Studios production Red, White, and Royal Blue as escapist. A queer romcom with attractive people who are sure to have a happy ending. So what? This attitude, however, would fail to recognize the difference between a lying parade of clichés, in which reality is simply faded out, and a film that paints a world in the most splendid colors that we should be working towards.
Here, the United States is ruled by “Kill Bill” star Uma Thurman – an outgoing president with working-class roots who fought her way to the top alongside her Mexican-born husband. And in the British palace there is a prince who, despite his critical attitude towards the monarchy, does not become an outcast from his country. The film does not claim to depict reality. But he shows that it would be damn nice if we got there eventually.
“Red, White and Royal Blue” on Amazon Prime Video
And above all, it tells a great love story based on the novel “Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston. This initially works according to the principle of opposites attracting. Alex can’t tell Mozart from Schubert, doesn’t know the enchanting cinema classic “In the Mood for Love” and absolutely doesn’t want to remember that he would have to address Henry as “His Highness”. And yet Henry has a crush on him. Alex, on the other hand, has to forgive the stiff prince for talking terribly pompously and shying away from the dance floor.
Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine play it very charmingly. And director Matthew López finds original visual tactics to convey the emotional explosion. Long-distance flirting via chat and telephone calls does not require a split screen, as was once the case with Doris Day and Rock Hudson’s “Pillow Talk”; the spatial distance is effortlessly eliminated mentally.
Casual flirting is gradually turning into something serious. Alex and Henry need to be brave and patient with each other. As a couple at night they dance magically to Perfume Genius. “It feels right,” Alex says at one point. And that’s true of every scene in this film.
Red, White and Royal Blue. Feature Film, 2023, 112 minutes, Amazon Prime Video