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Purple Hearts is a typical love story
With a screenplay by Kyle Jarrow and Liz W Garcia, director Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum adapts Tess Wakefield’s 2017 novel Purple Hearts for Netflix’s latest romantic drama.
Cassie Salazar (Sofia Carson) and Luke Morrow (Nicholas Galitzine) are polar opposites. Sharp-witted Cassie works nights at a bar to make ends meet while pursuing her music dream. The unwavering discipline of service comforts Luke, a Marine trainee about to ship out for duty. A chance encounter changes their lives at Cassie’s bar.
A diabetes diagnosis has caused Cassie to drown in medical bills. Cassie runs into her old friend Frankie (Chosen Jacobs), now enlisted in the Marines, who proposes she marry him in exchange for better medical insurance and a raised salary. When Frankie declines, his attractive but intense friend Luke offers to marry her instead. She doesn’t know he was desperate to pay off a drug dealer from his past, which is why he got married. Luke and Cassie must put aside their differences to make it look like a marriage.
When I saw the initial poster and the title for Purple Hearts, I expected a remake of director Sidney J. Furie’s same-titled 1984, which starred Ken Wahl and Cheryl Ladd. For those unfamiliar with that film’s plot, it takes place during the middle of the Vietnam War. A Navy surgeon (Wahl) and a nurse (Ladd) fall in love. Their affection for one another contrasts sharply with the violence of warfare. Instead, we get a different kind of film that should appeal to a younger demographic.
The general hook of Purple Hearts is realistic and happens all the time in the military. Those who have read my work in the past know that I’m an Air Force veteran. So I’m usually not that hard on military-based films regarding realism in certain aspects. The film does set up the reasoning for Cassie and Luke’s arrangement organically, and kudos to the writers for making Luke somewhat a voice of reason initially.
Sofia Carson and Nicholas Galitzine have decent enough chemistry to make the story work, with neither actor acting overtly mature. Even in the scenes where Cassie shares her views on the military, Carson never overacts and debates her theory with tact. Similarly, Galitzine plays a young devil dog with the right amount of gusto. I had a particular investment in his secondary storyline with his father portrayed as an older man of wisdom by Linden Ashby.
Now for the gripes. While I tend to give some military films a pass, the plot point that sets the film’s second half in motion was just a little far-fetched for me to believe. The way the script handled this crucial plot point had me ready to turn the movie off. But I soldiered on to the finish line. Also, I was not too fond of handling the Cassie diabetes storyline.
How deep was Cassie in debt that a second job wouldn’t solve her issue?
Nevertheless, Sofia Carson brings a set audience to the film, which will watch it regardless. By no means a total failure for me personally, Purple Hearts isn’t something I’ll ever revisit, but I do look forward to seeing the leads in other films.
Final Grade: C
Purple Hearts is streaming on Netflix now
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