PURPLE HEARTS – A REVIEW
I should start by saying I did not stumble on the trailer and find myself intrigued. I happened on a second-take review that called out this movie for being problematic so going in, I expected myself to not like it. The reviewer took down the first take because after re-watching the movie, their stance changed and they could not understand why they gave it a good review in the first place. Full disclosure, I went in primarily because I expected to have a scathing review at the end of it. Now that I have seen it, armed with full knowledge of how it plays out, I can fully declare that I am not sure where I stand anymore and that is the magic of patriarchy.
Purple Hearts is meant to be a touching enemies-to-lovers story of a strong-minded female singer, Cassie, and a questionable male Marine, Luke, whom I think was intended to be portrayed as misunderstood. Well, dearest readers, welcome to Red Flag #1. Misunderstood is exactly how problematic people are always portrayed to lighten the severity of their red flags. Drug addict? No, he’s misunderstood. Possible patriarch? No way, he is just misunderstood. Personally, I cannot abide people who make borderline jokes about sensitive issues, he and his crew were instantly cancelled the moment his friend said:
I am willing to understand -not agree with but understand- where patriarchs come from because it is not easy to ask a person to condemn a system that has always served them but when that delves awfully close to sexual assault, my sense of understanding completely evaporates.
This leads us to Red Flag #2; Entitlement. The person making the statement in the picture is, like the male lead, also a Marine. No offence to all military personnel, truly. I could not do it so I respect it but I draw the line at entitlement to parts of another person’s body. It is a service worthy of commendation to risk your life for another but let’s change the scenario, shall we? No one will think twice about the comment not being passable or even forgivable if he was a bodyguard and the reason is simple. The emotional strings in that context are less convoluted so it is easier to see it as a job, one he gets paid for. One thing I did like was that the scene opened the floor to conversations on casual misogyny. It is so deeply ingrained in us to let causal misogyny slide. Whenever it is called out, the caller is painted as being “extra”. It is the same reason I was reluctant to add this in my review and also the reason you might currently be wondering why I am being “extra” but commendably, this movie called it out loud and clear. Seemingly harmless or not, we should always condemn such comments.
Following a chance meeting at a bar where the main characters get off to a rocky start, the movie progresses until they eventually decide to a fake marriage so Cassie can gain access to health insurance to cover the expenses of living with diabetes mellitus and Luke can earn more money to pay off his former drug dealer. A match made in heaven. Another commendable thing about this movie was its portrayal of a person, the main character for a change, living with not a one-in-a-million medical condition but a common widespread but metaphorically ugly one. Hollywood tends to romanticize diseases but the movie was honest in its portrayal.
This leads us to Red Flag #3 when the newlyweds have lunch with the other Marines and their significant others. The female lead calls out what she considers a troubling generalization and in the fashion of a true misogynist, the person responds with:
Just as I am cringing all the way to my toes and hoping the male lead, Luke, redeems himself for having such friends, the singular male character that I had hope for, Frankie, who is both a Marine and friends with Cassie goes on to say, “Yes, he does.” when she responds to the statement in the image with, “No. He doesn’t ‘get’ me.”
To avoid any massive spoilers, I will end the evidence-based excerpts here. However, the reason I am on the fence about this movie is simple; despite all the previously mentioned red flags, I cannot categorically say I disliked this movie yet for the life of me, I cannot point out one thing I liked about any of the characters. Luke barely left an impression while Cassie spent the entire movie staying true to her selfishness.
Logically speaking, that should not make for a good love story but somehow, it was not a bad one either. While I cannot say with any certainty where I stand on this movie, here are three things I learned from it:
- When people start saying something and then stop, deny them food and they will spill their guts.
- Having control issues means you are smart.
- For females, do not let men kiss you on the forehead. They will steal your common sense.
Give the movie a watch and let me know your thoughts. Perhaps you will figure out what I failed to; why it is hard to call this movie a bad one.