When I first saw the Netflix trailer purple heartsI, probably like many of you, rolled my eyes. A love story about a fake military marriage for benefits? Give me a break.
He almost wanted to hate it, because it seemed like it would be too easy. But I’m here to report that after seeing it myself, it’s good. As in, it made me cry at the end alright.
The story centers on Lance Cpl. Luke Morrow, a recovering addict who joined the Marines to prove himself to his father, and Cassie Salazar, a singer-songwriter with type 1 diabetes. Morrow, played by Nicholas Galitzine, is preparing to go to Iraq, but he has to pay off a huge debt with his former drug dealer. And Salazar, played by Sofia Carson, has run out of money to get the insulin she desperately needs to “literally survive,” she says exasperatedly as she and Morrow work out the details of her deal in a diner.
This article contains minor spoilers for purple heartswhich premiered on Netflix on July 29.
Almost from the beginning, the two are at odds. She is a feminist who has resigned from service members, as she later reveals that her mother had a “series of boyfriends from the bottom up”. Moments after meeting her, Morrow confidently identifies her as “predictable” and someone who tweets “a lot about other people’s rights” but actually “she doesn’t want to do anything” because “guns are bad.” He is a Republican, she is a Democrat. She loves hot sauce on breakfast tacos, he hates it. She wants a pet iguana, he absolutely doesn’t.
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Within the first 10 minutes of the film, one of Salazar’s friends says that a Marine joked with her that she should marry him for medical care.
“Do you see the boy who appears to be 12 years old?” asks Nora, a bandmate played by Kat Cunning who works at the bar with Salazar. “He told me I should reconsider my stance on men because if I married him I would get amazing health insurance.”
“Wow, health insurance,” Salazar says sarcastically. “That’s some dirty talk right there.”
purple hearts, what was it filmed at Camp Pendleton, is the clearest example of the classic enemies-to-lovers trope you’ll find. And while the movie has no shortage of stereotypes — sexist Marines, rogue spear corporals, stubborn feminists who’ve been burned too many times — it’s sincere and genuinely enjoyable. Galitzine and Carson have undeniable chemistry on screen, and while it’s corny at times, the story is certainly enjoyable enough to keep you entertained.
Shortly after they first meet, the idea of marriage for benefits becomes more realistic when Salazar realizes that he has no options to get his insulin. He first approaches a childhood friend, Frankie, played by Chosen Jacobs, about the idea of a fake marriage; the idea is gently rebuffed when Frankie says that he is getting serious with his girlfriend.
Come in tomorrow. While he rebukes the idea at first when he overhears Salazar talking to his bunkmate Frankie, go figure, because his father is a retired Navy deputy, he then changes his tune, as his former drug dealer calls about the $15,000. that Morrow owes him. Married troops get more money, she reasons. One thing leads to another, and soon Salazar and Morrow will be married in court with Frankie as the only witness.
The night before Morrow and the rest of his unit embark, the same day the two supposed lovebirds got married, they get into a fight in front of the other Marines and their loved ones. However, as the fight escalates, Morrow is reminded of what they are supposed to accomplish. He pulls her close and they pretend to reconcile as her friends watch and joke around from inside a restaurant.
Later that night, the two have to share a motel room. The tradition, Morrow tells him, is that Marines and their girlfriends stay there the night before deployment. And you wouldn’t know, there’s only one bed.
The whole story is a game of emotional tug-of-war. When they get closer, something happens that separates them. When one seems to be falling, the other seems distant. But while the trailer seems to paint Salazar as a “dependa,” a derogatory term typically used for servicemembers’ wives who do nothing while their servicemember does the hard work, it’s clear from the film that Morrow is so dependent on her. Although they planned to quickly divorce after Morrow returns from Iraq, tragedy strikes and Morrow is injured by an improvised explosive device (IED). Before they know it, their vows to care for each other “in sickness and in sickness” become more real than they ever imagined.
given my hot shots from previous moviesIt’s probably not surprising that I’m just as much of a fan of a romantic drama as the next person. But as I began to watch the film with a critical eye for this article, I quickly found myself totally engrossed, my Google Notes document virtually empty as I watched the story unfold.
Finally, purple hearts has something for everyone: a solidly entertaining story with great chemistry for my romance lovers, and a chance to make fun of a military-related movie for people who, well, would always make fun of it anyway.
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