Matthew Lopez’ first feature film, Red, White & Royal Blue, was released on Amazon Prime in August this year. It read more like a series than a movie. I expected maybe ten episodes of Prince meets First Son, but its narrative progression was fluid, runny honey dripping between each long-awaited intense interaction.
The two characters were obviously representations of the contemporary British Monarchy: young Latin American celeb (Taylor Zakhar Perez) weasels their way into the heart of the younger prince (Nicholas Galitzine). It’s progressive and fiercely feminist, most significantly with the subtle insertion of a female US president (Uma Thurman). It light-heartedly addresses serious matters, wrapped up in an adolescent love story. This adaptation from a novel clearly came from the work of a playwright: it’s got the witty breadth of a play, and the depth of a romance novel.
It light-heartedly addresses serious matters, wrapped up in an adolescent love story.
At times, it was obnoxiously set in the 21st century. It had so many references to contemporary media, resulting in a piece stuffed with dated trends to be eaten up now, but probably won’t last the test of time. It should be mentioned, though, that communication through text chains and emails echoes the courtly pursuit of a long-distance lover in some period drama, giving it a flare of elegance.
The film also tackles fame, how it feels to be a young person in the spotlight, and stigma surrounding dating a prince. Shockingly, the presence of an openly gay Latino man is still controversial in cinema. Yet it made sense to present a middle-class man in comparison to the prince. Alex is such an optimistic character, fuelled by idealism and optimism, where Henry is battling self-identity and confidence. In one poignant scene, the two leads are outside in the snow. Alex asks Henry who he would be if he wasn’t famous, he answers he’d be a writer. He then says, strikingly, ‘People I date don’t interest me, and people who interest me, I can’t date.’ This paradoxical statement highlights the humanity within people in political power- they too just want love and happiness. This was only made clearer through the homosexual nature of Henry’s desires. After all, princes aren’t allowed to be gay.
Alex is such an optimistic character, fuelled by idealism and optimism, where Henry is battling self-identity and confidence.
Red, White & Royal Blue beautifully represents queer romance. Though cringey at times, it romanticises bisexuality- giving the queer community their very own Kissing Booth. It was regal like Bridgerton, yet comedic and passionate. It inhabits a world which progressively presents gay love as visually beautiful rather than overtly fetishized. It’s set today, but tangled with Austen-esque courtly love. It’s main message is that queer sex isn’t gross, instead it’s described as ‘making love’, soft, in dim golden lighting. Ultimately, I watched gay romance and it felt like a real love story.