This article contains spoilers for Netflix’s “Purple Hearts.” Reader’s discretion is advised.
While most romantics and avid fans of sappy Netflix films are smitten with “Purple Hearts,” most film critics are not—and we agree on the latter.
Two weeks since its premiere, “Purple Hearts” has racked up millions of watch hours and a place in the top 10 most trending films worldwide. With the “successful” number of viewers, it secured its position as “the third best second-week Netflix film since July 2021, behind Red Notice and Don’t Look Up,” according to What’s On Netflix.
Lack of special-op, full of soap-op
The film has a fair share of praise, mainly for the lead stars’ undeniable chemistry, but when it comes to the plot and overall filmmaking, critics are calling it lackluster, absurd, and a poor, cheap attempt to make a movie. One critic even said via Rotten Tomatoes that the film “is too much soap-op, not enough special-op.”
And it is, considering that most of its initial promotions were highlighted to depict what it’s like to be married to a marine.
In its review, the NME stated that while the storyline did have “well-deserved moments,” the rest of the plot remains “a little too on-the-nose and obvious to become properly compelling.” The New York Times also remarked that while it recognizes the film’s “potential to be a poignant melodrama,” the overall plot is absurd.
Meanwhile, a review by Military Times described the film’s storyline as “thin” with a clichéd military premise but nevertheless acknowledged the chemistry between the stars as “off the charts.”
Based on a 2017 novel by Tess Wakefield, “Purple Hearts” follows the love story of a troubled marine and an aspiring musician who first had an encounter at a bar. No, it wasn’t love at first sight, but rather “mutual contempt at first sight,” considering that both had different beliefs—with one being painted as a liberal through flags and bumper stickers.
Cassie (Sofie Carson) is a singer-songwriter in dire need of health insurance to cover her Type I diabetes-related medical expenses. On the other hand, Luke (Nicholas Galitzine) is a recovering addict who joined the marines to turn his life around and gain back his father’s respect. However, his past keeps haunting him as his former drug dealer comes asking for the money he owes.
After eavesdropping on Cassie’s conspiring conversation with a friend—who, you guessed it, happens to be Luke’s bunkmate—Luke presented himself, in a way, offering an immediate solution to their desperate circumstance. Despite her initial hesitation, Cassie eventually caved into Luke’s offer, and they tied the knot just days before the latter’s deployment for duty. Of course, it was a fraudulent marriage, but they still consummated it—probably to hint at the obvious that they would eventually fall in love.
It soon dramatically changed when Luke was forced to go home due to his leg injuries in combat. Cassie took on the role of his unwilling caretaker to keep up with their sham marriage amidst the improbably rise of her music career.
What began as a pompous marriage has transformed into a full-fledged “in sickness and in health” situation because both parties are now experiencing health issues. But, of course, their sham marriage was exposed, Luke was relieved of duty and sentenced to six months in prison, and Cassie… she thrived as a singer-songwriter and is living her dreams. Nonetheless, they did share a kiss before the former marine was arrested, ensuring the audience a happy ending.
Again, too unrealistic.
Military Marital Fraud
Every service member knows about the increase in financial incentives as soon as they get married, or at least until they have proven the occurrence of marriage. It’s an open secret. Plus, the more dependents they have under their name, the more cash they get. Among the incentives offered is Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), which the lead character, Luke, is seeking to pay his dodgy former drug dealer. Although his intentions were good in some ways, such as assisting Cassie in receiving her much-needed medical care, this arrangement is still considered fraudulent.
In an article, a lawyer who specializes in military legal cases explained that “If a service member marries a civilian merely for the purpose of providing them with military benefits, then, that is a fraudulent marriage, and to assist that person getting those benefits constitutes fraud against the US.”
Not to mention that this has been a problem that most service branches have had difficulties in getting sorted out because proving a marriage is fake can be pretty challenging for law enforcement officers.
However, numerous service members who participated in this bogus union for financial gain have previously been exposed in the past. In the same way that this particular military member, who was apprehended and “sentenced in 2012 to ten months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to conduct marriage fraud and wire fraud,” was. He also made reparation payments of about $30,000 for the BAH and other marital benefits that were improperly obtained. On the other hand, his Jamaican wife was given a lesser punishment—two years of probation and was mandated to pay $2,600 in restitution to the Army for medical care to which she was not entitled.
Another recent example is a report about an Alaska-based soldier and his Florida-based wife. They admitted to tying the knot in the name of not love but military benefits and US citizenship. Yikes!
So to answer the question in this article: Yes, it is possible and has been proven to be quite a challenge for law enforcement officials to establish a false marriage since both parties are in it. But in the case of “Purple Hearts,” the movie is just too catered to the general audience that the happy ending comes across as excessively unrealistic.
Stream “Purple Hears” on Netflix.