Ah, finally a movie about a love story as old as time: a Marine Lance Corporal marries a girl in Oceanside for the money and benefits. Finally, a movie that speaks to me and my people.
Purple Hearts is a Netflix original that tells the story of a young waitress and aspiring musician, named Cassie, who desperately needs health insurance (because of her diabetes). A young Marine Lance Corporal named Luke owes a drug dealer some money (or something), so the two form a perfect arrangement with each other for the extra cash and Tricare bennies.
This could be the perfect plot of a solid military romantic comedy, but instead unfolds far too seriously as a romantic drama. Anyone with practically any experience around Marines knows that “contract marriages” are a dime a dozen, and the seriousness with which they treat their predicament is laughably silly. In an early scene, the two unrequited lovers sit at a diner and discuss, in utmost secret, how everyone will be watching them, and they need to be incredibly careful. You’d think they were plotting to commit a murder instead of entering a sham marriage.
(This is likely due to the official Marine Corps involvement with the film, as many scenes were filmed at Camp Pendleton. When productions opt for official military support, the script needs to be reviewed by the entertainment liaison. Essentially, it needs to be approved. The entertainment liaison will likely say something like, “yes the plot is fine and you can film here, but he needs to be court-marshaled in the story for it to be approved.”)
The positive: Any Marine watching this film will find countless things to nitpick (like the guy’s fucking haircut throughout the entire movie), and while there’s a ton of cringe moments, it isn’t the worst movie ever. Maybe I’m just desperately craving films that aren’t over-produced $200 million blockbusters, but for what it’s worth, the original music in the movie is actually pretty solid and at least it’s original. It’s also worth noting that it’s one of few movies that actually attempts to understand Marine Corps life outside of combat, and it was filmed on-location at Camp Pendleton and Oceanside.
(I still hold that the film would have been a perfect romantic comedy rather than a drama)
Purple Hearts is currently the #1 movie on Netflix (as of writing). If I had to guess as to why it blew up, I would say it’s probably because the amount of women in the United States and abroad that have had illustrious and stupid flings with infantry Marines over the years adds up to potentially billions of people.