Mediocre Movie

Despite clichés, “Purple Hearts” is an enjoyable movie for romantics.



When I tuned in to the 2022 Netflix movie “Purple Hearts,” I expected to see a predictable Hallmark-style romance movie, but with better production value. By the end, I was left with conflicting thoughts. I was teetering between enjoying the feel-good aspects of the movie, while also grappling with some troubling scenes and a lack of accountability for the protagonist Luke. 

The movie follows the story of first-generation Colombian immigrant Cassie Salazar (Sofia Carson) and Marine Luke Morrow (Nicholas Galitzine). Cassie is a struggling musician, recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, while Luke is a former drug addict in debt to a loan shark and in a fraught relationship with his father. Despite their political and personality differences, the two characters engage in a sham marriage for financial gain to reap the health benefits and additional military pay from the government. I’ll let you watch the movie to see what happens in the end. 

Early on, we learn that Luke is conservative and Cassie is liberal. Their initial introduction ends in conflict and a mutual dislike for each other. Later, Cassie and Luke are reintroduced and, for monetary reasons, decide to marry. Reflecting the polarization in the current political landscape, these two are predictably lined up on different sides of the aisle: she is a pacifist, he is a Marine; her mom immigrated to the country illegally, he is opposed to illegal immigration, and so on. The characters lack nuance and seem to be caricatures of what liberals and conservatives “should” be.

Throughout the movie, we get to see Cassie become more understanding of Luke’s point of view. In fact, she writes several songs detailing their relationship while he is serving overseas in Iraq (which every character in the movie pronounces irritatingly as I-rack). By the end, Cassie seems to have been able to seamlessly incorporate Luke’s worldview with her own beliefs without hesitation.

Luke’s history with his father is a recurring theme in the movie. The two fell apart due to Luke’s drug problems and have remained estranged since. Their relationship is one of the few plot points of Luke’s story. We get to see them repair the broken relationship through the movie. I am thankful for this addition and enjoyed seeing the two rejoicing. 

On the other hand, a frustrating part of the movie is that we only get to see Cassie changing her views and becoming more accepting of her partner’s side. Unfortunately, there is not a single scene in the movie that shows Luke changing his viewpoint. This is a major flaw of the movie. He has to have become more accepting of Cassie’s viewpoint if the two are to have a healthy relationship, but we never see this.

While I personally appreciated the movie’s attempt to show diversity in the characters, it may have been more compelling to have Cassie be of Arab descent. This would have acted as an interesting point of conflict for the characters. In several early scenes of the movie, anti-Arab racism and xenophobia are depicted as a normal part of the Marine Corps. A troubling scene in the movie takes place when one of Luke’s friends and fellow Marine Armando, makes a comment about “hunting down Arabs” on the eve of the group’s deployment to Iraq. Although Cassie tries to challenge this, she is immediately reprimanded by Luke and relents in her objections. It was disturbing that Cassie was depicted as a troublemaker while the person who made the comment was excused for his blatant racism.

As a person of partial Arab ancestry, I felt very uncomfortable during that scene. I was especially turned off by the way Luke’s character never confronted his friend and seemed to lean into the stereotypes about Arab and Muslim people. After Cassie reprimands Armando, Luke storms off, enraged at her behavior. The two go outside where he hurls some of his own stereotypes about Arab countries such as, “How do you think those women feel in Iraq?” and they eventually move on. The movie just brushed it off as if it was nothing.

Additionally, Cassie’s point of view is minimized throughout the movie. If two people from different sides of the spectrum fall in love, they should be meeting in the middle, not one changing completely while the other remains stagnant. I would have liked it if they cut half of Cassie’s revelation scenes and instead offered some glimpse into Luke’s evolution. 

Throughout the movie we also get to see the development of Cassie’s singing career. She begins the start of a very successful music career, and we see multiple singing montages. 

Before ending this review I must mention that the best character in the entire movie was Peaches, the rescue dog that the couple adopts. Peaches did an incredible job and added innocence and lightheartedness to the movie. 

In the end, despite some cringeworthy moments, I actually did enjoy the movie. I am a romantic at heart, so a cheesy love story is right up my alley. Carson and Galitzine had great on-screen chemistry and shared an ease with each other that was palpable. Although the ending was predictable, other storylines within the movie kept it interesting to watch. I especially enjoyed watching Luke’s complicated relationship with his father unfold and watching Cassie’s music career take off. Every movie has flaws and controversy, and in spite of the tone-deaf comments and lack of character development, “Purple Hearts” was an enjoyable watch.