Before you read any further, you should know that I fell in love with “red, white and royal blue” when the son of the President of the United States grabbed the Prince of Wales’s behind.
It’s a playful touch – actually a token of love – but the moment is made bold and dazzling by its backdrop, a state dinner for the leaders of the two world powers as a new trade deal is negotiated. In a nearby anteroom sit Alex Claremont-Diaz (Taylor Zakhar Perez), whose mother, a Democratic pioneer, is in the middle of a tough re-election campaign, and Prince Henry Hanover-Stuart-Fox (Nicholas Galitzine), whose brother is the heir who ascend the British throne have just begun their own, um, special relationship.
Alex’s lighthearted handful of royal tush couldn’t come soon enough – if not for film then for pop culture in general. If I had seen another gay romantic comedy about two straight men I’m sure I would scream.
I mean, of course, “straight men” in the comical sense. Against the self-adulation and self-flagellation that perished several of its predecessors is Red, White & Royal Blue, adapted by directors Matthew López (“The Inheritance”) and Ted Malawer (“Halston”) from Casey’s equally frothy film McQuiston The novel seems relieved of the pressure to say something profound about the history or portrayal of queer. Whether cheerful or clever, depending on your point of view, the film even covers up its own political background: xenophobia, gender-neutral toilets and resentment against the monarchy are only mentioned in passing, but fit into the wallpaper of the palace. An eventual triumph for the LGBTQ+ people “Red, White and Royal Blue” is largely unrecognized and apparently unplanned. If you’ve already been sticking to winks and nods for a lifetime, counting milestones and historic firsts, it’s almost a relief.
“Just” a dizzying, silly confection in which two beautiful, privileged young men fall first in lust and then in love, the film prefers to spend its time chasing the conventions of romantic comedy. Sidekicks have never made sense in a genre where working more than two hours is a violation of most international treaties, so Henry’s poor sister, Beatrice (Ellie Bamber), predictably falls short; As Alex’s best friend Nora, the Vice President’s daughter, Rachel Hilson at least gets a chance to cast some Judy Greer-style shadows. But without her, one would feel betrayed—or without Uma Thurman’s demanding, stubborn love mother, President Ellen Claremont. Or, in the great tradition of the unethically horny journalist and political reporter Miguel Ramos (Juan Castano), who looks at Alex so hungry that I want to make him a sandwich.
The real key to Red, White & Royal Blue, however, is that this fan service doesn’t make the film clean. Randy, though not raunchy, unabashedly slices it to the Washington Monument in one electrifying moment, zooming in on the substitute’s bouncing buttocks in another. Hell, if you’re counting at home, the opening sequence, which covers our protagonists in white icing, could be taken as a foreshadowing.
Perhaps most aptly, the film doesn’t reserve its comic firepower for references to Grindr, Truvada, Bottoming, and “the B in LGBTQ” (the last three of which come from the mouth of Mama Bear Claremont, who “speaks” her bisexual boy holds). , but for less obvious material. The film’s best throwaway lines, about auctioning off shoes to fans, about one’s own height and the difference between rugby and football all seem like a joke to those of us who, as the prince describes himself, are “gay”. . a maypole.” If you know, you know.
The challenge for queer reinterpretations in any Genre, unfair as it may be, is about successfully walking that tightrope. Be too specific and it suddenly becomes ‘niche’. Caring too much about straight viewers feels like indulgence. Faced with these impossible constraints, “Red, White & Royal Blue” occasionally strays astray, not least with the “consistent” strings scoring an otherwise steamy sex scene.
However, by displaying his political imagination so bluntly, the film paves the way for his romantic imagination. If you are willing to accept that the first President’s handsome son could lead the Democrats to victory in Texas, or that the coming out of a British royal family could spark spontaneous demonstrations across the UK, the notion that such demonstrations could take place becomes irresistible , coming A secret love affair amidst a sea of partygoers dropping their loot to “Get Low” can’t possibly be overdone. It’s just another hugely entertaining invention boost.
This utopian instinct springs from the same far-fetched origins as Notting Hill, in which a movie star is just a girl standing in front of a boy and begging him to love her, and You’ve Got Mail, in the arch rival in business are soul mates online: “You’re idealistic, if I have to be realistic,” President Claremont chides her smitten son, as if to remind us of the basic tenets of the genre. For it may be true that the development of romantic comedy as a whole reflects real problems and revolutionary changes in class structure, sexual mores, gender norms, and even constitutional law. But film after film, it prompts us to dream of developments on a smaller scale, if not more graspable: cute encounters and mutual contradictions, falling head over heels in love and falling apart. Neither “Bros,” which lashes out at the erasure of queer people from romantic comedy, nor “Fire Island,” which mischievously translates it to queer spaces, quite as thoroughly captures the element of fantasy at the heart of the genre, queer or not .
At the risk of insinuating on the film the seriousness of its intentions, which it tends to avoid, “Red, White, and Royal Blue” could even be considered a violation in its own right if it passes that test. Like a direct beachhead in the war against heteronormativity, the romantic comedy can be taken by force (“Bros”), stolen for our own ends (“Fire Island”), or subjected to a stealthy attack, as in this case in Shelter of the Night. A Trojan horse – well, a magnum horse, if his thirstiest sentence is to be believed – on the doorstep of the White House, Buckingham Palace and studio executive suites, López’s film smuggles queer ideas and images into spaces traditionally of heterosexual people are shaped by straightforward tastes. This, to be clear, is no more the “right” way to update the genre for the 21st century than any other.
It’s just nice to come in through the front door.