The romantic Netflix drama “Purple Hearts” tries to wring a heartfelt story from an arrangement that can’t help but feel absurd.
Based on the novel by Tess Wakefield, the film depicts the fraudulent military marriage between Cassie (Sofia Carson), a singer-songwriter and Type 1 diabetic, and Luke (Nicholas Galitzine), a former addict who’s attempting to win back his father’s approval by joining the Marines. While they both initially seek the benefits of marriage out of financial desperation, the couple’s dynamic changes when Luke is injured in combat, forcing Cassie into the role of unwilling caretaker.
“Purple Hearts” had the potential to be a poignant melodrama — or maybe a sharp satire — about the options available to those left behind by the U.S. health care system. Instead, the film wallows in contrived plots and subplots, made worse by the dearth of chemistry between the two leads. By the time Luke violently confronts his former dealer in a parking garage in what resembles a deleted “Euphoria” scene, you wonder how much of the movie was dictated by Netflix’s content algorithm.
The film frames itself as a star turn for Carson, whose character’s ascendance from dive bar performances to opening for Florence + the Machine at the Hollywood Bowl resembles Carson’s own recent rise to fame through the Disney Channel ranks. But the music, just like the marriage, rings hollow.
Not rated. Running time: 2 hours 2 minutes. Watch on Netflix.