A crowded bar is the only place Luke and Cassie would possibly encounter each other. She sings and serves at the place in order to work on her music. He is letting loose with his fellow marines to put off the dread of deployment.
Cassie is cynical, fighting to stay afloat, seething with anger at the injustice of the world. Luke is a tough third-generation marine with strong opinions.
They infuriate each other.
But they also discover they need each other for financial reasons.
Cassie is dealing with the high cost of living with type one diabetes. She is running out of options, and it’s getting worse. After a health crisis because she ran out of insulin, Cassie realizes she needs a new plan.
Luckily for her, Luke is not much better off. He owes someone a lot of money from a darker period of his life, and he needs to pay that person off before they get impatient.
Their creative solution: one year of “marriage.” They can both get debt free and start fresh. What could possibly go wrong?
Cassie and Luke both take care of each other when they are struggling medically. They learn to respect and trust each other, becoming sweetly sacrificial. Both become closer with their families and have close relationships with their parents.
The two eventually overcome their differences with love. They grow to acknowledge that America needs to change and embrace compassion, but also that the troops are making an extremely valuable sacrifice. Cassie eventually learns to believe in love and commitment.
Luke tells Cassie that his mom got cancer and his dad supported her through immense suffering. Cassie’s mom worries about her health and feels guilty for her inability to help with the cost of her daughter’s medical care. The movie suggests that the price of insulin is dangerously high and nearly impossible to pay for with bad insurance.
Cassie says “God bless you” to a man who tells her the same.
The marines hit on the female servers and imply that their military service entitles them to a sexual relationship with the women.
Cassie and Luke discuss what a real marriage means. Cassie says that sleeping with other people and having respect but not love for each other would lead to the healthiest marriage ever.
They start acting like a couple for the time Luke he is deployed, kissing, hugging, writing love letters and FaceTiming–all while planning to get divorced in a year. Cassie says that she doesn’t have a “fluffy virgin white wedding dress” to wear when they get married. Luke says that marriage is based on love and for life according to him, and Cassie calls that a fantasy because marriage is a “pointless legal arrangement that turns lovers into enemies.”
They begin to get serious when Cassie comforts Luke over his fears about deployment, and they sleep together. The marines howl and mention their plans to sleep with their girlfriends. Their clothes are shown dropping to the floor and the camera shows them topless and kissing, but avoids nudity. Luke pretends it didn’t happen the next morning, and his army friends pick her up and hold her to the bus window to kiss him before he leaves.
Riley, a friend of Luke’s girlfriend, sits on a friend’s lap and cries about his leaving.
Much later, after Luke suffers an injury, Cassie helps him undress and get into a bath, taking care of him gently and intimately. She suggests that they start to sleep in the same bed again, not having done so since before his deployment. They lie down facing each other in a romantic scene, and she says that they’re disgustingly cute and suburban.
A member of Cassie’s band uses non-binary pronouns and mentions a girlfriend. Cassie and other women wear crop tops, including some see-through outfits. We see a pride flag hanging outside Cassie’s apartment.
Luke’s drug dealer tries to run him over in a truck, and he has to scale the fence to avoid it. The man says Luke owes him money and threatens his family.
The soldiers carry automatic weapons, the drug dealer carries a pistol. We are told that the soldiers endured an IED explosion that killed some and hurt Luke. His injury is shown after a bit of healing, but it is clearly still quite painful.
The drug dealer breaks into Cassie’s mother’s house and threatens the family. Cassie almost passes out from low blood sugar. Luke beats up and pays his old drug dealer, threatening him and taking his gun (before disposing of it).
Two f-words and seven s-words. God’s and Jesus’ names are both misused a few times each. We hear “a–,” “h—,” “d–n,” “a–” and “b–ch” one to three times each. A vulgar term for the male anatomy is used twice.
Cassie sings in a bar several times, and people are shown drinking beer and hard liquor. Luke’s drug dealer tries to get him to start doing drugs again, and the man seems high at the time.
Luke’s family drinks beer together casually.
Cassie mentions that the Marines always treat the female servers like objects. A friend of Cassie’s mentions that her father left when she was young and was a bad man, which Luke says explains a lot.
Luke and his brother discuss the strained relationship between Luke and his father as a result of his bad behavior. The brother worries that Luke’s drug habit puts his family in danger.
Cassie and Luke argue about illegal immigrants and healthcare, debating whether or not it is ethical to scam the government. An obnoxious Marine toast to hunting down the Arabs, which angers Cassie because of the racist implications. The man responds by asking if she thinks they should just teach them about pronouns. Luke is upset about the way she is starting conflict while they are trying to relax before deployment.
Luke says when he was at his worst, he ended up driving 120 mph down the road without pants on. Both Cassie and Luke struggle to the other help them when they have medical challenges.
Purple Hearts feels a bit like a really racy Hallmark movie. On the positive side, we see that real love is sacrificial, and that love can overcome divisive issues. The two leads have good chemistry, and the film’s support of the military and real relationships with family is admirable. The result is a story brimming with sweetness in many ways.
Purple Hearts even suggests that fiercely held political beliefs don’t have to divide us—a refreshing message in our currently fractious and fractured cultural climate.
But then there’s all that racy stuff. Sexual content and foul language take the story’s genuinely sweet vibe and rub it in the dirt a bit. It’s not the most explicit romcom you’ll ever see. But Purple Hearts certainly wouldn’t cut it on Hallmark without some significant editing.
Marsella Evans is the Plugged In intern for Summer 2022.