Netflix review: Christmas, catfishing mix up in 'Love Hard'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Nov 14 2021 09:03 AM

A scene from 'Love Hard'
A scene from 'Love Hard'

Natalie Bauer was a writer who wrote a successful regular column about her dating misadventures. However, she felt different about this latest guy whom she met in a dating app -- Josh Lin from Lake Placid, New York. They seem to hit it off so well in their regular chats, such that Natalie impulsively decided to fly cross-country to give Josh a big surprise that Christmas. Upon arriving at Josh's house, Natalie also received a big surprise of her own. 

Catfishing means misrepresenting oneself by creating a different persona on social media. This darkly delightful film tackles this phenomenon at various levels. Josh (Jimmy O. Yang) catfished Natalie (Nina Dobrev) by posting photos of his more handsome friend Tag (Darren Barnet) instead of his own. Natalie in turn resorted to telling lies about herself in order to gain Tag's favor, which illustrated that catfishing can also be done in real life, not only online. 

All the lying in this film was only made more tolerable by the likability of the two lead actors. Nina Dobrev played Natalie with typical millennial pretentiousness, yet she was still quite charming so we do not totally dislike her for it. Jimmy O. Yang played Josh with dry wit and self-effacement, making it tough to fault him for deceiving Natalie with fake photos. Whether they actually had romantic chemistry between each other, now that is the harder sell.

Watch more on iWantTFC

The best parts of this Christmas movie are the parts involving Josh's loving parents, Bob (James Saito) and Barb (Rebecca Staab) and grandmother June (Althea Kaye). Their happiness and affection for Josh felt very genuine, such their scenes did feel quite emotional. I liked their great Christmas spirit with the fancy house decorations and their caroling tradition. Harry Shum Jr. went a tad over with his competitive older brother Owen bit. 

Even if this was handled in a light comical way by Costa Rican director Hernan Cortez, the underlying theme of this film about lying in relationships was very disturbing. While watching, we witness how Josh and Natalie's lies just kept on piling up one over the other, affecting them and everyone around them. We all felt how these falsehoods reached that inevitable tipping point when there was already no easy way of extricating themselves out. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, “Fred Said.”