Netflix’s Purple Hearts focuses on a struggling singer/song writer who married a soon-to-be-shipped-off marine for mutual military benefits. They pretend to make it look like a real marriage but the make belief soon turns into something real as tragedy strikes.
The film is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Tess Wakefield.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
Purple Hearts opens with Cassie Salazar (Sofia Carson) trying to work on a song at the pub she waits tables at. Meanwhile, Luke Morrow (Nicholas Galitzine) is shown to be training to become a marine and ship off to Iraq.
The two meet later that night when the marines head out for a drink and don’t get off on the right foot. One of the marines casually insults Cassie and she snaps.
Luke tries to sort things out but fails as the two have quite opposing mindsets. One of the marines, Frankie (Chosen Jacobs), is a friend of Cassie’s and warns Luke that she has a no-dating-soldiers policy.
After a performance at the pub with her band, The Royal, Cassie heads out to her car and tests her glucose levels, revealing that she has diabetes.
We eventually come to know that she is behind on her rent and struggling to afford insulin as her health insurance plan doesn’t cover the type of insulin she needs to live.
Elsewhere, Luke is shown to be at odds with his father and goes to meet his brother and his family instead before he ships off. It is also brought to the audience’s attention that Luke used to be a drug abuser and owes his dealer $15,000.
One day Cassie goes to see Frankie and finds Luke there as well. She asks her friend to marry her for military health insurance benefits so that she can afford to survive and focus on her career.
Luke overhears the conversation and berates her for trying to dupe the government. Cassie, who is the daughter of a single Mexican mother, responds in kind by shutting down Luke and his America loving attitude based on her mistreatment by faulty laws.
Frankie however refuses as he is dating someone. Cassie understands his predicament and leaves. Later, Luke’s dealer threatens him with a gun and asks for the money. This forces the marine to take the route he was so against a few days ago.
He approaches Cassie and the two discuss terms. They will have to make it look like a real marriage as it will look suspicious since the ceremony will be right before he leaves. He stresses the importance of it since the military will be watching them as it is a common scam.
They also agree to split the extra money down the middle. Before they know it, Luke and Cassie exchange rings and vows with Frankie as their witness who gives Cassie a ring which he is saving for his girlfriend when he comes back.
A night before deployment, Luke and Cassie get together with the rest of his squad and their better halves for a drink. Cassie ends up getting into an argument with the same marine who insulted her and Luke walks out, visibly frustrated.
Cassie goes after him and the two start exchanging words. However, Luke notices the people staring and hugs Cassie and they calm down. Later, they are supposed to stay in the motel near base and end up having sex as Luke opens up about being afraid of putting his life on the line.
The next day however, he is quite indifferent to everything that happened last night. Cassie goes with him to the base and the soldiers get ready to board the buses. She notices family members crying and kisses Luke as he leaves.
Purple Hearts ending explained in detail:
What happens in Iraq?
Time passes and the two exchange emails, texts and calls regularly telling each other about their likes and dislikes since they didn’t get a chance to before. Cassie solves her medical setbacks and focuses on her music, gradually seeing success.
Meanwhile, things get bad in Iraq as action mounts up and Cassie sings an original song for the soldiers on video call, inspiring them to come back home. Luke keeps sending his extra money to the dealer hoping that his debt will be over soon.
That song gets picked up by a local radio station later and gets popular on Spotify. The Royal has a great sold-out gig and Cassie celebrates. This is when she gets a call from Germany revealing that Luke has been wounded in action.
Afraid of what will happen next, she searches for the address Luke gave her in case of an emergency and heads out to inform his brother about it.
Unfortunately, she doesn’t realise that her so called husband’s father and brother have the same first name and ends up informing the latter about his son’s condition. Luke had warned her not to get his dad involved as he is former Military Police and may see through their act.
Jacob Sr. (Linden Ashby) is stunned as he didn’t even know his son enlisted in the army nor that he is married. They go to see Luke who is wheel-chair bound for the foreseeable future due to severe burns on his right leg due to an IED explosion.
Luke is afraid for them as he knows that involving his father could be disastrous. To make things worse, he lets Cassie know that Frankie was wounded too in the same attack and didn’t make it. They attend his funeral and Cassie returns the ring to his girlfriend.
Luke moves in with Cassie to avoid suspicion and his father volunteers to drive him to physical therapy twice a week. The situation isn’t ideal but they decide to get through it until Luke can walk again and then file for divorce.
What happens with Luke’s dealer?
Since Luke is injured and recovering, he isn’t able to keep paying. He drives by Cassie’s house and orders him to pay as he knows about his fake marriage and can turn him in. He also threatens Luke with endangering Cassie and his family.
Meanwhile, Cassie is hard at work with her music and Luke gradually recovers enough to be able to walk with a stick. Cassie and his brother even get him a golden retriever named Peaches for company.
Things seem to be going well as the fake couple starts to bond despite their contrasting views and opinions. Unfortunately, while Cassie is busy with another show, Luke picks up a call from her mom about a break-in at her house.
She doesn’t know about the marriage arrangement so Luke heads over there and introduces himself as Cassie’s friend. He goes in to check for intruders as Cassie arrives.
He then gets a call from his dealer who tells him to pay up or else. Realising who is responsible for this mess, Luke sees the dealer the next day and beats him up. He returns the rest of the cash to him and warns him to stay away from his family.
Unfortunately, the dealer goes to Cassie’s mom and reveals the truth. Cassie confronts Luke and is mad at him for putting her mom’s life in danger.
He tells her that he started using drugs after his mom passed away and stole a $50,000 car from his dad. He wanted to sell it but ended up crashing it. His dad threatened to turn him in so he borrowed the money from his dealer to pay back his dad.
Cassie hears him out but her anger gets the better of her and she orders him to move out.
Do Cassie and Luke end up together?
The Royal is supposed to play a major show the next day and Cassie tells Luke to live with his dad or brother and inform them that they are filing for a divorce.
Luke goes for a run — his first after injury — and succeeds to complete it. As he gets back to the apartment, a senior military official comes to escort him to base, revealing that charges of fraud have been filed against him.
Cassie gets a call later that night revealing what has happened and tells Luke’s dad that not all of it was fake. There is a court of inquiry and Luke takes the entire blame for the situation, revealing to the judge that Cassie had no idea that what they were doing was illegal.
Luke is ordered to serve six months of detention inside military prison following which he will be discharged from service. Cassie is set free but is troubled by Luke’s sacrifice.
However, Luke still receives a Purple Heart for being wounded in action which is quite a proud development for him and his father as he also got one.
The relationship between them gets better as Jacob Sr. is proud of the man Luke has become after his drugged-up past. The Royal gets a huge opportunity to open for Florence and the Machine at a show and Cassie nails her opportunity, getting a record deal in the process.
However, as soon as the concert ends she rushes to the base as Luke heads there to start his imprisonment. She calls him but there is no answer.
Luckily, she makes it before he goes inside and comes clean about being in love with him. She agrees that she was ignorant about her feelings but not anymore. Luke, almost in tears, reveals that he loves her too and they kiss as his father, brother and sister-in-law cheer.
Cassie lets him know that she’ll wait for him and they will be together after he comes out. As the credits roll, we see Luke return and the couple go on a romantic beach holiday with Peaches in tow.