Love Hard

Actors from the show Love Hard, Dec. 5, 2021.

The holidays are approaching quickly, and it’s the season of joy, love and subpar Christmas rom-com movies. It was hard to feel enthusiastic about “Love Hard,” Netflix’s new holiday movie release, when its predecessors — “The Princess Switch” and “A Christmas Prince” — have been so disappointing and cliché. 

However, “Love Hard” is refreshingly simple and chronicles the dating life of Natalie Bauer, a Los Angeles-based columnist. Natalie has had a slew of bad experiences with men she has met on dating apps, and she’s frustrated with her love life until she matches with Josh Lin, an attractive man who is a self-described outdoorsman. 

This chance match spirals, and they start talking on the phone and click instantly. Natalie eventually decides to surprise Josh during Christmas and flies out to his hometown in New York where she realizes that she’s been catfished by Josh. While Natalie is originally angered, she comes up with an agreement with Josh where he sets her up with the real man in the pictures on the dating app, but she has to pretend to be his girlfriend to impress his family. 

The plotline contains many classic rom-com tropes like fake dating, catfishing and complicated family dynamics during the holidays. It’s not an original movie by any means and relies too much on these facets of the genre. Everything is completely predictable, and you can guess the ending by minute 10 of the movie. The simplicity, however, is appreciated in this subgenre where movies try to come up with a plot twist that makes everything incomprehensible and convoluted. This is a perfect example of a holiday rom-com that practices simplicity and directness. 

Additionally, this movie simply oozes Christmas. The atmosphere feels like a warm hug and envelops you in the Christmas spirit. Josh’s home is a rugged Christmas dream decorated with green garlands, twinkling lights and soft flannel. Every shot is a visual treat that transports you into a world of Christmas and gives you warm, fuzzy feelings. I also appreciate the family dynamic between Josh’s family, who are endlessly supportive and excited for their two sons. 

This movie also fills the need for more Asian American representation in romantic comedies, specifically as the romantic lead. It is not shoehorned in and is a natural and accurate portrayal that does not pander to the audience. We need more of this in traditional media, and “Love Hard” should be applauded for it. 

One thing that could have been improved is the relationship between Natalie and Josh. I didn’t feel there was much chemistry between the two, and their relationship felt like more of a platonic friendship. More moments could have been manufactured to emphasize their feelings for each other as people. 

The lessons the love interests learn along the way include the value of honesty, family and unapologetically being yourself. All in all, this is a cute and simple movie that you can mindlessly watch next to a roaring fire with a cup of hot chocolate this Christmas. 

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