Film Review: Love Hard (2021)

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(IMDB/Website)

Sweaters, hot drinks, and, of course, holiday movies are all in style this time of year. With a modern narrative of a dating app match gone astray, Hernán Jiménez’s “Love Hard” does its utmost to win over romantic comedy enthusiasts ahead of this year’s festivities. The movie made it to #1 on Netflix on November 5, 2021.

Natalie (Nina Dobrev) is a woman in Los Angeles who has built a career out of writing for a cringeworthy website about her horrible love life. After a succession of particularly disappointing dates, a friend expands the search radius of her dating app to include the entire country. Finally, she matches with a cheerful, engaging, and charming personality.

After a particularly lengthy conversation, the long-distance digital boyfriend laments the fact that Natalie will not be around for Christmas. Natalie travels across the nation to Lake Placid, New York, to meet the guy of her dreams at the behest of her friend and boss (the latter wants another tragic dating column out of the encounter). When she arrives, however, Josh (Jimmy O. Yang) does not resemble the photos he sent her. After being ignored on dating apps for so long, he used the images of an old friend, Tag (Darren Barnet), to talk to women.

Natalie decides to stay and pass herself off as Josh’s girlfriend to please his family, even though she is now stuck in Lake Placid without her luggage. Josh offers to help her win over the man whose images she fell for in the first place, even if it’s as dishonest as Josh’s deception.

“Love Hard” has its adorable romantic moments. Almost every scene with Natalie, Josh, and Josh’s family—which includes Grandma (Takayo Fischer), his father Bob (James Saito), stepmom Barb (Rebecca Staab), competitive brother Owen (Harry Shum Jr.) and his wife Chelsea (Mikaela Hoover)—is a winner, ratcheting up the pressure on the phony couple to keep up the act.

The funniest scene is when Natalie downs shots at a pub to gain some bravery to attract Tag. Unfortunately, one of the shots contains a fruit to which she is fatally allergic, and her face inflates as a result of the reaction. It’s a humiliating sequence staged for laughs, but it feels oddly cruel in the context of an otherwise enjoyable comedy.

Another interesting element of “Love Hard” is that several of the plot points appear to have been inspired by current events. Online dating is common, and catfishing—when someone pretends to be someone else online—is so widespread that MTV aired an entire series about it. Josh explains to Natalie that he catfished her because Asian males may face discrimination on dating platforms. I believe that films like this should be made more frequently since they present a real-life example to many people who may be able to connect to this situation.

“Love Hard” is a much more explicit Christmas picture in my opinion than “Die Hard,” and it has been added to my list of favourite Christmas films. You must enjoy the complete sleigh trip to experience the joy that the “Love Hard” movie intends to convey. The film is now streaming on Netflix and the movie trailer is available on YouTube, so get your hot snacks ready for a perfect Christmas movie.