‘Purple Hearts’ (2022) Review: A Vapid Romance Between A Conservative and A Liberal
When a hasty marriage of convenience doesn’t blossom into a romantic union between two strangers, it turns into an absurd story that attempts to be a heartfelt story. Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum’s Purple Hearts introduces an aspiring musician and a marine, who hate each other but they realise they can help each other out if they get into a sham marriage. With the background of an Iraq war and where opposites attract, Netflix’s latest slate of romantic comedies have been disappointing, to say the least. In a genre where Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts and Kate Hudson have portrayed amazing characters, Sofia Carson doesn’t seem to have the spark of a rom-com queen.
Cassie Salazar (Carson) struggles to pay rent and her medical prescriptions with her double gig, bartending and performing. When Luke (Nicholas Galitzine), a marine and a former drug addict, meets her at the bar where she works at, they don’t quite hit it off — they hate each other. Despite their differences, Cassie and Luke learn that if they marry each other, they will receive certain benefits. Just before Luke’s upcoming tour in Iraq, they participate in a sham marriage, where Cassie is entitled to full health insurance and Luke will be able to pay off his debts to his former drug dealer with the extra benefits. However, things don’t always go according to plan. As Cassie’s career is taking off, Luke gets injured on tour and returns home to recover. Now, they must live together in Cassie’s apartment to present themselves as a fake couple to Luke’s father to avoid making him suspicious.
The story is unbelievably absurd and ridiculous in every way possible. Cassie is a liberal feminist who spends the beginning of the movie putting everybody in her place that mansplains and harasses her. She’s vocal about her hatred toward the American government and the Iraq war, which doesn’t settle well with the conservative and pro-gun Luke. This is the start of that one joke that goes, ‘When a marine and a liberal walk into a bar…’ But their initial indifference doesn’t stop there. Throughout the entire film, Cassie points out standard white liberal feminist nonsense every time they argue, while Luke calls her a “snowflake.” Though it is necessary to point out that while Carson’s lines are nowhere near impressive, she calls out racists and misogynistic bigots. Regardless of how much they hate each other, cupid’s powers are much stronger than their problems.
But Cassie’s arc gets stranger as the movie progresses forward. Her hatred towards the military is put aside when she writes a song for the troops and instantly becomes a viral hit. It doesn’t make much sense when she changes her stance from anti-military to “this goes out to all the American troops.” What happened to the white liberal feminist? Perhaps this is a matter of convenience, where her needs were finally met and she changed her mind regarding everything that she was against. But it reads off as a politically lazy movie, and it is in no way attempting to make a point.
One factor that hurts the romance in Purple Hearts is the lack of chemistry between Carson and Galitzine. The former, who is known for her appearances in Disney movies like the Descendants, adds no emotional substance to her role. The scenes between them are just plain bad and become increasingly unbearable to watch. There’s no heat or chemistry between them, and it’s just not fun to watch such a substandard romantic movie.
Purple Hearts might not be the kind of movie that tugs at viewers’ heartstrings. It’s a vapid romance that presents viewers with a gun-trotting right-wing conservative and a white liberal feminist who discards her politics and succumbs to a man she never got along with in the first place. Everything about the movie is a little too on the nose, and Netflix seems more than happy to release insipid content that panders to the lowest common denominator.