Review: Purple Hearts

By Evis Zogaj.

Purple Hearts plays out like a conservative fanfiction and is predicted to be Netflix’s most viewed movie of the year. The 2022 released film tries to portray a relationship between two people who are on opposing sides of the political spectrum, but its obsession with finding all its sympathies inside the American military overshadows everything else. 

Nicholas Galitzine portrays Luke Morrow, a U.S. Marine officer who is about to be deployed, and Sofia Carson plays Cassie Salazar, an aspiring musician. The plot of the movie completely commits itself to including as many themes as it can via Cassie and Luke’s personal lives.  

Cassie, who was born to an illegal immigrant, is depicted as working many jobs to pay off her debt while finding it difficult to pay for her own insulin therapy. Luke, on the other hand, is a sober addict who is isolated from his family and who must pay off his own obligations. After getting off to a bad start because of their diametrically opposed political ideologies, Luke and Cassie soon realize that a phony marriage would provide Cassie access to the medical insurance she needs to pay for her medicine and would also give Luke access to a monthly stipend. 

Purple Hearts is a melting pot of American issues, including immigration, Big ‘unaffordable’ Pharma, the drug crisis, and the United States’ numerous military operations abroad. Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum, the director, refrains from using this as an occasion to make social commentary. In the movie’s almost two hours, we witness these challenges covered by easy fixes, all of which have their roots in the conservative school of thought. The convictions that formed the basis of Luke and Cassie’s conflict are undermined by this, leaving little confidence in them.  

The popular and timeless “enemies-to-lovers” cliché has been used to profound effect in Purple Hearts, which has gained a lot of viewers because of this. Although it is a simple cliché to perform, it is as amusing to get wrong. Luke and Cassie are shown to be firmly situated at opposite extremes of the political spectrum. The conclusion of the movie, which demands that these two find a way to put aside their disagreements, rushes the characters to that point of agreement while leaving them in a confused state.  

While Cassie, a liberal immigrant of color, is first depicted to have negative thoughts about the military, at the midway point in the film, her character is completely free of any such sentiments. Instead, the plot shifts to her producing songs for the troops’ emotional support and tending to an injured Luke. It feels less of a gamble, less of a risk, and less of a sacrifice for Cassie to be with Luke when her ideals are written in as being so transient and readily broken, making the foundation of the story flimsy. 

Luke, on the other hand, keeps a more consistent personality. His belief that “not all soldiers are wicked” does not change, and his development is intended to demonstrate him acquiring more military virtues. However, this has less to do with the quality of the script and more to do with the circumstances under which the movie was created and the practicalities of the production. 

In the United States, there is a special marriage of convenience between the two businesses known as the “military-entertainment complex.” In exchange for a positive image of the American military services, the entertainment industry has been granted access to unique equipment and locations for decades. In that sense, the US Department of Defense also works with screenwriters on the screenplays. Purple Hearts’ finished product reflects this as well, as Rosenbaum revealed in an interview with a media site. A Navy veteran served as a military advisor and modified the screenplay to provide the producers access to special defense filming locations. She acknowledged that the alteration in the screenplay was made to balance how the Marine Corps was portrayed. 

Purple Hearts is a challenging project from a genre standpoint. It not only seeks to do so, but it also wants to do it in a highly heated environment. Given that both Cassie and Luke appear to have been born with political views, it also walks the line of “the personal is political,” therefore it ought to have put that issue front and center while addressing their differences. By excluding the same, a shallow product is produced. This feels like a shameful excursion for a movie that explores so many political concerns, and the viewer is left with a generic Netflix book-to-movie adaptation. 

Purple Hearts is streaming on Netflix. 

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