Can A Latina Lead Save Netflix’s “Purple Hearts?”
Warning: Contains Some Spoilers
It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to watch a trending Netflix movie.
The military romance Purple Hearts starring Sofia Carson as Cassie Salazar and Nicholas Galitzine as Luke Morrow, is still sitting comfortably in one of Netflix’s Top 10 spots, and while fans are buzzing around the chemistry between Carson and Galitzine, even these actors couldn’t save this mess of a movie.
Purple Hearts tells the story of Cassie Salazar, a Latina woman working at a local bar where she’s both a server and performer, singing with her band and struggling to make a name for herself in the music industry. Cassie moved out of her mom’s house to strike out on her own, only to find out she has Type 1 diabetes. With insurance that won’t cover her insulin and whispered arguments at their local pharmacy that end with her mother not being able to help get her the medicine she needs, Cassie is desperate for a solution.
Cassie has a less than stellar run-in with Luke Morrow, a fresh-from-basic-training Marine that enters her bar, but her interest in the military is piqued when someone makes an offhand comment about how good health insurance is for military service members.
After struggling to figure out how Cassie is going to keep herself alive with insulin she can’t afford, she pitches the idea of getting married to a mutual friend of Luke’s. Luke, who is dealing with his own financial demons agress to marry Cassie to give her access to benefits and get himself an increased monthly salary, leading us down the inevitable sweet enough storyline that guarantees a marriage of convenience that could turn into real love. But given the fact that the entire premise is based on marrying for the sake of financial benefits, I’m not buying this tale being sold.
Purple Hearts attempts to place U.S. healthcare at the center of a storyline but it feels out of sync in a country where women don’t even have bodily autonomy when it comes to reproductive rights.
Carson tries her best to bring Cassie’s plight to life, but even their “opposites attracts” storyline that includes Luke being a conservative who accuses Cassie of being a “lib” who villanizes the military can't get me past Luke’s half-hearted excuses about his friend’s “we’re gonna go kill some Arabs!” comments ahead of their deployment.
The internet also had some strong opinions when it comes to the plotline itself:
\u201cwait there\u2019s a netflix \u201crom com\u201d about a type one diabetic who can\u2019t afford her insulin so she marrys a man in the military for his health insurance benefits \ud83d\ude2d\ud83d\ude2d baby that\u2019s a horror movie omg\u201d— drea \u273a (@drea \u273a) 1660164906
\u201cPurple Hearts is for the girlies with racist boyfriends\u201d— \ud835\ude7a\ud835\ude8a\ud835\udea2\ud835\ude95\ud835\ude8a... (@\ud835\ude7a\ud835\ude8a\ud835\udea2\ud835\ude95\ud835\ude8a...) 1659670482
The attempt to humanize Luke and those like him who make hateful statements like this, regardless of their military service status, is tone-deaf to those who suffer at the hands of this rhetoric in real life every day. After four years of conservative supremacy going wild in this country, the last thing we need is conservative apologist rhetoric disguised as supporting someone’s military service.
Purple Hearts tries to place context around a lot of harmful stereotypes about military couple dynamics, misogynistic commentary, displays of machismo, and political points of view., A prime example is Luke defaulting to calling Cassie a “liberal” as an insult when she expresses an opposite opinion.
Needless to say, a buzzy movie in a top streaming spot doesn’t mean it’s a hit. Put Purple Hearts on your to-skip list.