Purple Hearts (2022)

Published on 6 July 2023 at 12:33

This Netflix adaptation was quiteeeeee the trip. I watched it thinking it would be a cheesy, shallow drama with political tones and a happy-go-lucky soundtrack. In these types of movies, as long as the plot isn't redundant, and the characters are interesting in their own regard, I can watch with idle mind and appreciate it for what it is. However, that isn't the case with Purple Hearts at all, as it is a try-hard film with weak attempts to act like a peacemaking between different political sides.

A lot of characterization and notable plot points established in the beginning were tossed aside for the direct purposes of moving the story along speedily, which also negated any realistic chances for the characters to build a strong bond. The actors had little chemistry, and besides the annoying style choices for the female lead (hair constantly tucked in her clothing? What?) the blatant racism and discrimination built in the beginning as the climax was never "resolved," only ignored (like many of the problems apparent in this movie), which was both disappointing AND confusing to viewers; as we were expecting those issues, presented as a major facet of the story, to be a part of the conclusion in some form/manner. The lack of attention to characterization left the audience with plainly unlikeable characters - the lack in dimension was excruciating. Sofia Carson's character was insufferably angry pretty much all the time, and Nicholas Galitzine's was a condescending piece-of-work that didn't deserve the chance to redeem himself, had it been done properly.

Now that I've established how their relationship was dissatisfying and frankly exhausting, I will dissect the moral of the story. Both characters are depicted as very strongly opinionated individuals: she is the classic "liberal" while he is a "republican." Even within the first five minutes of the dialogue, the intentions are evident, as the writers do not bother to mask their agenda. Time and time again, as their issues are presented to each other in what is supposed to be an "aha!" moment (she needs Insulin to survive but can't afford it) (he joins the marines to discipline himself after overcoming addiction), they never tend to respect each other with these new perspectives. Instead, it's used almost like comebacks fifth graders would have on the playground, where essentially they are one-upping each other. There is not much room for learning. For characters where their political perspectives are so rooted in personal experiences, it goes beyond being POLITICS. It's VALUES. They have different values and stubborn mentalities, and with these characterizations presented as early as five minutes into the movie, I have no reason to believe that it should work out in the end. 

This movie could have been salvageable with a different ending. While there was a message to be delivered, the movie didn't have to take itself very seriously, and could've been a lazy watch that I appreciated. But with the characters deciding they were unfalteringly in love with each other, it makes it viewers much more acutely aware of the gaping problems in their dynamic. Have them be in lust with each other. Despite my assertion that they have lacking chemistry, it's clear that the intentions for the characters were to make them initially extremely attracted to one another. Have them learn from each other, respect each other, and part ways. But instead, the conflict with the female lead's views on the government, military, and struggles in the Hispanic community were merely forgotten when most opportune halfway through: when it was time for her to fall in love with the male lead. As for the male lead - while his characterization was not discarded like his female counterpart out of convenience for lazy storytelling, his character arc stayed stagnant throughout - ultimately ruining the "redemption" the writers tried to include in the concluding 15 minutes, and only contributing to one of the stalest relationships on-screen I've seen on Netflix (and that's saying a lot, considering I've watched After and The Kissing Booth).

In all, the movie was performative when meant to be thought-provoking, juvenile in development, lacking in ability to maintain audience attention, and INCREDIBLY annoying (I got tired of the random cuts to her singing the same few songs repetitively REALLY FAST). 

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