PURPLE HEARTS: My Darling Romance
For the romance genre, success often lies in presentation and the triumph of incompatibility. A common thread running through every film that builds on this narrative structure, many prove to the melting hearts of their audiences that opposites do indeed attract and unions of the heart go beyond expectation. For Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaumhis film purple hearts is no exception, bringing two unlikely souls together in a fight for life and love.
Still, purple hearts attempts to rise above traditional “opposites attract” romance, blending contemporary social critique with the challenges of the modern world. And while it doesn’t always land or break standard convention, purple hearts proves that the challenges of attraction go beyond the individuals at hand.
purple hearts opens with a slow, brief introduction to our central duo, their surroundings, and their surroundings drawing the audience into contrasting worlds. From a bar to a military boot camp, there’s a sense of carefree, regimented worlds that begin to shape both Cassie (Sophie Carson) and Luke (Nicolas Galitzine). Yet where the film maintains a stereotypical romance throughout, giving little deviation in structure, it’s the idea of two worlds merging that really elevates the film.
As viewers watch as the unlikely duo come together, it’s their individual motivations that have truly united two separate lives. For Cassie, viewers learn early on that she has type 1 diabetes, a condition that not only helps propel the film’s romance, but its criticism of Big Pharma. As purple hearts visually structures the various jobs Cassie takes on to get by, we quickly learn that’s not enough as she has to choose between paying for the various drugs that literally keep her alive and her rent.
Just weeks after the film’s release, Senate Republicans voted a resounding ‘no’ to legislation that would have capped the price of insulin at $35, barring people with diabetes from affordable health care. . As the price of insulin skyrockets, Cassie’s struggle hits hard and feels lived, her pockets empty. with nowhere to go and no one to help. It’s urgent purple hearts is able to manufacture in his need, the one who carson harnesses both desperation and endurance well.
Dependence and independence
Yet as Cassie literally struggles to survive in a society seemingly designed to lead her to poverty and death, purple hearts takes a moment to recognize that it’s not just Big Pharma’s stronghold on the pharmaceutical industry that is having devastating effects. At the other end, illegal drugs bring their own devastation. For Luke, a past history of drug use and loan sharking becomes his own motivation for considering the fraudulent marriage Cassie proposed. For Luke, his past decisions reverberate through himself, their effects threatening to engulf everyone around him.
And in the face of addiction and recovery, he finds himself in the same situation as Cassie, running out of options, with no one to turn to. Where the social critique of purple hearts illuminates both struggles, it uses them as a way to motivate the narrative, not only instilling the heightened sense of “what if we get caught” (which the romance formula states will happen), but also giving the ways to motivate romance. Because after all the drama and the musical numbers, that’s what we’re here for.
As each of their struggles has hardened Cassie and Luke to strict independence, it’s those struggles that really make their romance possible. purple hearts is fully aware of this from the start of the film and embraces it through undeniably engrossing cinematography and a steadily paced story that effectively brings the film to its final moments.
Yet where the film finds its successes, it also finds its own struggles. purple hearts leans heavily on Cassie’s musical career, giving it a memorable soundtrack for those who fall in love with the film but also sometimes feel like a filler. The film also asks viewers to suspend their sense of belief, moments that seem a bit too demanding of viewers to just “go with”. And while that critique alone can be generalized as a trope of the genre, it weighs down its social critique by losing some of the authenticity it worked so hard to manufacture.
purple hearts presents itself as a viable romantic endeavor that is sure to touch your heart while providing a conversational platform for the modern-day struggles from which its central romance stems.
Have you seen purple hearts? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!
Purple Hearts is now playing on Netflix!
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