It’s the time of year again, the holiday movie season and Netflix has no shortage of titles. one of the first up is Love Hard. Directed by Hernan Jimenez and written by Daniel Mackey and Rebecca Ewing, Love Hard is a romantic comedy that takes catfishing and surprise visits to a wholesome level that works. Starring Nina Dobrev, Jimmy O. Yang, Darren Barnet, James Saito, and Harry Shum Jr. this movie is a great way to kick off the holiday season.
If you haven’t heard of Love Hard yet it’s about an LA girl named Natalie who is completely and disastrously unlucky in love. Opening with a monologue about soulmates and Zeus, Natalie’s personality cuts into the scene sharply “Zeus is an asshole.” Setting up the rom-com perfectly with love against, well, being an asshole, Love Hard continues as it showcases Natalie’s horrible luck with guys. When she’s encouraged to extend her dating radius on her app, she ends up finding Josh. He’s handsome, he’s funny, and after talking to each other non-stop, Natalie thinks that she has found the one. That is until she shows up at his house in Lake Placid, New York unannounced and realized that she’s ben catfished.
Love Hard isn’t reinventing the Christmas rom-com genre but it is embracing it. Not only does the catfish end up being a pretty good friend, but the picture he used to nab Natalie also belongs to a real guy named Tag. Striking a deal to pretend partners for the duration of the holidays, Josh promises to be the best wingman and help Natalie finally get her happy ending. While the two are awkward, the wholesomeness we get to see of them getting to know each other just works.
Truthfully, the chemistry between Josh and Natalie is undeniable and that develops because of the strong lens of friendship we see them through. Josh is timid and the black sheep of the family, just looking for enough push to do what he wants and to finally feel like he’s making his family happy. On the other side, Tag, the guy he masqueraded as was the popular kid who turned into the popular man, loves the outdoors, and hits traditionally masculine on the head. Seeing Natalie with both characters allows the audience to see how well-crafted she is as a character.
As a romantic comedy lead, Natalie is as great as she is flawed. She’s abrasive and not particularly looking to conform. But that only extends as far as her trying to become Tag’s girlfriend. While I’m not a fan of “change everything about me to win a guy” as a trope, it works in Love Hard. Why does it work? Well, because the entire time it’s happening, the audience and the characters know that he is only going to end badly but also that it’s not the right thing to do.
Truly, some of the more overused tropes work well in Love Hard because of their execution but more importantly because of the cast. Dobrev is endearing, Yang is charming, and the characters that surround them are hilarious and vibrant. To be honest, there isn’t a single dull character or moment of the film.
Overall, there is enough Christmas to make Love Hard a great watch for holiday fans. And even if you don’t like the holidays, the romance is on point, the comedy is great and ultimately makes this a fun Friday night. Love Hard is charming, heartwarming, and just the best way to kick off the holiday rom-com season.
Love Hard is streaming exclusively on Netflix.
Overall, there is enough Christmas to make Love Hard a great watch for holiday fans. And even if you don’t like the holidays, the romance is on point, the comedy is great, and ultimately makes this a fun Friday night. Love Hard is charming, heartwarming, and just the best way to kick off the holiday rom-com season.