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🎬 Purple Hearts, Netflix August 2022
Fancy a film filled with romance and a type 1 diabetes angle?
This review will let you know whether it’s the kind of film you’re likely to enjoy or not.
In a nutshell, Netflix’s latest hit film, Purple Hearts, is just that, a romance with type 1 diabetes. And, for authenticity of diabetes, it does it well!
The story revolves around two central characters, Luke (Nicholas Galitzine) and Cassie (Sofia Carson), who start off with a clear dislike of each other and very differing outlooks on life. Their lives soon become joined quite literally when they agree to a marriage of convenience to suit their own personal circumstances.
He has debts, which are only revealed to her later on, while she knows that she will benefit from access to medical cover for her diabetes.
The sting in the tail is that this ‘fake marriage’, where its purpose is to claim military benefits, is against US military law and both characters risk jail if found guilty of the offence.
Scenes are split between Luke’s life as a US marine and Cassie’s fledging music career as a singer/song-writer. The obvious romance blossoms as they get to know each other better through long-distance communications, but of course there are complications, and the path of true love doesn’t run entirely smoothly.
To avoid ruining your enjoyment, I’m not going to go into too much detail and instead have focussed on the diabetes aspect of the film. Suffice to say there is lots more to the story for you to enjoy.
The theme of Diabetes
Cassie experiencing disorientation & blurred vision due to being 'hyper'
It’s established early on that Cassie has type 1 diabetes and as the story develops, we see how she experiences the rollercoaster of diabetes management, as well as the highs and lows of life.
From hypos, hyperglycaemia, everyday management issues such as finger prick testing, alarms going off, injecting insulin and getting a pump fitted, the film explores many day-to-day experiences that will be familiar to those with type 1 diabetes.
It’s good to see how these interruptions don’t prevent Cassie from following her dreams. A mantra followed by many type 1s!
“Diabetes wasn’t in the budget!”
For Cassie, as a US citizen, insulin doesn’t come free and so the film serves to highlight the problem with the rising cost of this essential life source for those living with diabetes.
Just 6 months after diagnosis, we see that she has mounting debts and there’s a scene at the pharmacy showing how she can’t afford the high costs of insulin, having run out 4 days before her prescription will be renewed under her medical insurance. She resorts to rationing her insulin, a potentially dangerous decision which as many of type 1s know could lead to hyperglycaemia and DKA (diabetes ketoacidosis).
The cost quoted by the pharmacist is $300 for long-acting insulin and $200 for short-acting insulin.
Sadly, this situation isn’t unusual in the US and despite the discoverer of insulin, Frederick Banting’s statement in 1922 that “Insulin does not belong to me, it belongs to the world” it is now the 6th most expensive liquid in the world and those most reliant on it in the US pay the most!
Key scenes showing diabetes
The film shows many diabetes activities often in close-up and can really help to raise awareness and understanding of the condition. There is also lots of focus on the small details too.
Guardian sensor (left) and infusion set for pump (right).
Watching Purple Hearts may be useful for those newly diagnosed to see and could help to see some of the daily activities as being a normal part of managing the condition. It could also be a talking point for explaining the management and onus of the condition to carers and others.
Cassie's insulin pump fitting.
I found Purple Heats to be very relatable as a person with diabetes and all the scenes showing management of various diabetes activities are well-directed with a feel of authenticity.
One reason for this was that it turned out that one of the actor’s playing a small role, Breana Raquel, has type 1 diabetes in real life and was able to give an input to the film’s portrayal of the condition.
At the audition stage, she hadn’t known that it was a key theme of the story, but when filming started, she was able to help Sofia Carson to understand the emotional aspects of dealing with diabetes.
Purple Hearts appears to go a lot further to show the reality of living with diabetes than Pixar’s recent animation, Turning Red. Despite including a character wearing an infusion set,did very little to raise awareness of the condition. You can read why me I felt it was a missed opportunity in my review here.
The music aspect of Purple Hearts is fantastic! It plays a big part in the audience’s engagement with the romance as the lead is inspired to write many of the songs based on her developing relationship. Consequently, the soundtrack is proving a popular download on Spotify etc.
All the tracks are performed by Sofia Carson, she is signed to the record label Hollywood Music, and she co-wrote 4 of the tracks with Justin Tranter, a songwriter and collaborator with many artists including Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Britney Spears and Fall Out Boy.
The author of this blog has type 1 diabetes and uses the FreeStyle Libre 2 which is provided on NHS prescription. We do not have any affiliate relationship with any third party mentioned. All trademarks are the intellectual property of their respective owners.