A singer-songwriter and a marine agree to get married for the benefits in Purple Hearts but things become very real after a tragedy.
This film is very much in line with the Nicholas Sparks genre. It has all of the melodrama that comes with the territory. I will say that Sofia Carson’s musical contributions manage to elevate the film just a bit. If you’ve read the Tess Wakefield novel, you have somewhat of an advantage. In reading over the book’s synopsis, it feels like they did make some changes for the film including moving the film out of Austin, Texas and over to Oceanside, California. Surprisingly, they tried making a film out of the idea several years ago but there weren’t any takers.
On the outside looking in, Cassie Salazar (Sofia Carson) and Luke Morrow (Nicholas Galitzine) appear to be just like any other ordinary military couple. But it’s a very different story when nobody is looking. I mean, why else would a waitress/singer-songwriter marry a marine after specifically saying that she has a no-soldiers policy? In many ways, this is one of those opposites-attract stories even if it appears to be a sham marriage. The main reason for them ending up together is because of her living with Type I Diabetes. Insulin is not cheap and if insurance doesn’t cover it, you’re screwed. Her Billy’s Breakwater Pub dive-bar job isn’t enough to pay the bills. Enter Luke and it’s a marriage-for-benefits because marine spouses receive health benefits and extra pay. Luke has his own reasons for doing so because of his past.
This new arrangement works to both of their benefits. It enables Luke to start wiping out his previous debts while Cassie is beginning to grow in popularity with her music career. The latter would never happen without Cassie recording “Come Back Home.” Sofia Carson is a talented singer but anyone who watched Disney’s Descendants movies already know this. She gives off a 70s rock star vibe as Cassie–think icons like Joan Baez. Outside of “Come Back Home,” the other key tunes are “Blue Side of the Sky,” “Hate the Way” and “I Didn’t Know.” And again, all the tunes are inspired by Luke. The thing I keep going back to is how “Come Back Home” has a way of bringing them together even though they are wildly opposite in comparison to each other.
In any event, Luke’s injury overseas changes everything. They have to put on a show in front of their friends and family. The other thing here is that we begin to see just how vulnerable they really are? Will they stay together or fall apart just as quickly as they met? Honestly, you already know the answer. It really becomes a matter of how many movie tropes appear during the final half hour or so.
They filmed on location at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. In fact, that’s an actual training session that we see on camera. Similar to the concert seasons, it almost feels like the filmmakers are embedded with the Marine Corps as a documentary crew. I personally wouldn’t have thought of filming like this but hey, whatever works!
There’s a tag at the end of the credits in Spanish: “Quien no arriesga no gana.” Per Google, the phrase means: “Who does not risk does not win.” It’s a callback to the text on Cassie’s back tattoo. Cassie has a number of tattoos all over her body.
The overall idea of Purple Hearts seems to be that opposites attract but in this very divisive climate, it feels like wishful thinking at best. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen in real life but it moves the film into full fantasy romance territory. Could I see Cassie and Luke ending up together in real life? The short answer is that I don’t know. Never say never, of couse.
DIRECTOR: Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum
SCREENWRITERS: Kyle Jarrow and Liz W. Garcia
CAST: Sofia Carson, Nicholas Galitzine, Chosen Jacobs, Kat Cunning, Linden Ashby, Anthony Ippolito, John Harlan Kim, Sarah Rich, Scott Deckert
Netflix releases Purple Hearts on July 29, 2022. Grade: 3/5
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