‘Love Hard’ Review: A Charming Holiday Rom-Com

Love Hard Netflix

‘Tis the time of year for binge-watching Hallmark movies, sipping on hot cocoa, and feeling that festive holiday spirit. That’s right, cheesy rom-com season is back in full swing. If you’re like me – counting down the days till the 3rd installment of The Princess Switch – then Netflix’s latest original movie, Love Hard, will certainly satisfy your holiday romance sweet tooth. 

Directed by Hernán Jiménez, Love Hard follows dating columnist Natalie (Nina Dobrev) as she documents her disastrous plight navigating the world of online dating. After swiping right on a man named Josh, Natalie feels like she’s finally made a real connection with someone special. On a whim, she decides to board a flight from L.A. to Lake Placid to surprise this so-called man of her dreams for Christmas.

Upon her arrival, she discovers that “Josh” (Jimmy O. Yang) has been catfishing her, and his profile photos are of his blissfully unaware friend Tag (Darren Barnet). She’s pissed, to say the least. In good ol’ superficial millennial fashion, Natalie completely disregards the connection she’s formed with Josh. Instead, the pair wind up striking a deal. Josh will help Natalie woo Tag if she agrees to keep up the ruse and pretend to be his girlfriend for the holidays. 

Consider my heart splintered with sorrow at this point. Poor Josh is too embarrassed to admit the truth – especially in front of his doting parents and painfully narcissistic brother, Owen (Harry Shum Jr. – thanks for the Glee nostalgia-fest). Meanwhile, Natalie is obsessed with the idea of finding her fairytale romance with Tag (a guy she knows absolutely nothing about).

Nina Dobrev and Jimmy O. Yang in Love Hard

Yang truly makes for the perfect leading man. It’s a refreshing and long overdue deviation from the played-out stereotype of the typical rom-com love interest. He plays the role of Josh with such sincerity, humor, and charm that it’s impossible not to root for him. Dobrev is also a delight to watch. Her character, like Josh, is also flawed, and it was satisfying to watch as awkward, cringe-worthy moments eventually blossomed into endearing ones. 

Even with all the predictable tropes and trappings of your everyday rom-com, Love Hard still manages to deliver charm and entertainment. Is it Oscar-worthy? No. But will it tug at your heartstrings and have you cheesin’ hard? Heck yeah. Isn’t that why people can’t get enough of the genre? 

Rating: 4.5/5

Love Hard is now streaming on Netflix. 

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