I am not a huge fan of the romance genre, though I am not really opposed to it either, and so having heard good things about the book Red, White & Royal Blue when it released back in 2019 I decided to mix things up and give it a read. I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed it, and while it didn’t set me on a romance-reading spree, it did wind up being one of my favorite books of the year. When it was announced that Amazon had picked up the rights to make a movie adaptation, I was both excited and a little trepidatious. It seemed like an obvious fit for a studio rom-com, but would they be able to capture everything that made the book so special? Fortunately, the answer turned out to be mostly yes.
Alex Claremont-Diaz (Taylor Zakhar Perez), son of President Ellen Claremont (Uma Thurman) is representing the United States at the royal wedding of Prince Philip (Thomas Flynn). Alex has long had a tense relationship with Philip’s younger brother Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine) and the pair wind up in an argument that leads to an embarrassing public incident. To try to mend things in the middle of major negotiations between the two countries and an upcoming U.S. election, it is decided that Alex and Philip will have to take part in a major P.R. tour in which they have to appear as best friends, during which they learn about why they each treat the other with such disdain and how wrong they were in doing so. Each is surprised that they have more in common than they thought and quickly become friends for real, before beginning to wonder if maybe they might even turn into something more than that.
As usual when adapting a novel into a film, cuts have to be made, and in this case it is largely done by reducing the roles of the supporting characters and even cutting some entirely. It is a bit of a shame, as they were endearing in the book, but since the focus of the story is really on the budding romance between Alex and Henry it makes sense. The opening scenes feel cheesy in the way that many Hallmark Channel movies do, but once things get moving that mostly remedies itself. Taylor and Nicholas are smartly cast as the two leads, each ably evolving from arrogant or stuffy to charming and sweet as the story progresses, and completely selling the attraction the pair feel towards each other. Some of the other acting isn’t quite as successful, but no one really whiffs it either. Debut director Matthew López adds a few nice flourishes, in particular with the way he stages phone call and text message conversations, but this is largely a standard issue rom-com. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, as the movie does achieve everything it sets out to do, entertaining the viewer as it goes and getting them to fall in love with the lead duo as they are falling in love with each other. It’s almost impossible not to shed a tear or two by the end. ★★★★
rated r for some sexual content, partial nudity, and language.
★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor