As the iconic queer adaptation hits Amazon Prime Video, we're breaking down the key differences between Casey McQuiston's book and movie.
"Red, White and Royal Blue" is a romantic comedy film directed by Matthew López and based on the 2019 novel of the same name by Casey McQuiston. The film stars Taylor Zakhar Perez as Alex Claremont-Diaz, the son of the President of the United States, and Nicholas Galitzine as Prince Henry of Wales, who are forced to fake a friendship for the sake of their respective countries. The film also features Uma Thurman, Sara Shahi, and Rachel Hilson in supporting roles. While the film sticks pretty close to the book, there are some key differences that fans have been discovering after the movie hit Prime Video.
Sadly, There's No June or Rafael
One of the most notable differences between the book and movie is the number of characters. The book features a large cast of characters, including Alex Claremont-Diaz, Prince Henry of Wales, June Claremont-Diaz, Bea Claremont-Diaz, Rafael Luna, Oscar Hernandez, Ellen Claremont, and Queen Catherine. The movie, on the other hand, reduces the number of characters to focus on the main love story between Alex and Henry. As a result, some characters from the book, such as June, Bea, and Rafael, are either absent or have reduced roles in the movie.
While it's not unusual for movies to cut characters from books, these two feel like a loss. We can't forget about the iconic June, the bold and clever Claremont-Diaz daughter that is also a fierce supporter of her brother, Alex. Rafael is also a big loss, considering he plays such a big role in Alex's political career and is a mentor to him throughout the book.
The Plot (Somewhat) Changes
The plot of the film is also somewhat different from the book. The film follows the same basic premise of the book, in which, after an international scandal, Alex and Henry are forced to fake a friendship for the sake of their respective countries. However, the film takes some liberties with the plot, such as changing the timing of some events and adding new subplots. For example, the film adds a subplot about Alex's campaign for Congress, which was not present in the book. The film also changes the ending of the story, which is more ambiguous in the book.
In my opinion, the ending in the book was more powerful. It really built the tension nicely, and has that powerful ending that eventually concludes with President Claremont-Diaz winning Texas and the election.
The Theme of "Identity"
It's important to note that the movie has a more lighthearted tone than the book. This isn't a negative – the movie truly made me feel the joy that comes from queer romance, especially between young people. But sometimes it felt like the theme of identity was watered down a bit. In the book, we see Henry struggle internally with his identity and his role in the monarchy. When it's time to confront the Queen (which in the movie is a King), there is not that lighthearted tone that the movie portrays.
This doesn't mean the movie skirts over their coming out, but the tone is definitely different than the one of the book.
I'll start by saying that the movie surpassed my expectations: it is a beautiful coming-of-age film that is perfect for a date night, or simply to watch with friends. It doesn't shy away from portraying the realities of queer love, which is refreshing for a queer film made by a huge platform like Amazon. I think it comes down to how you want to approach the unique and romantic story of Alex and Henry. If you are looking for a more in-depth and complex story, you may prefer to read the book. If you are looking for a more lighthearted and romantic story, you may prefer to watch the movie.
In the end, I'll be reading and watching both multiple times for as long as I can.
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