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Love Hard Movie Review: A rom-com that fails to engage- Cinema express

Love Hard Movie Review: A rom-com that fails to engage

Even teenagers may find some of the ideas used in the movie far too simplistic...

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Published: 15th November 2021

Dating apps seem like a ruse until you end up meeting someone you can connect with. Natalie (Nina Dobrev), from Netflix’s Love Hard, is a columnist who writes about her disastrous dating experience until... it’s a familiar template. The ‘disaster dating stories’ she writes under a pseudonym garner enough views that her boss seeks only such stories from her.

But our protagonist, Natalie, does deserve a happy ending, doesn’t she? A surprise match from Josh Lin (Darren Barnet) is cause for optimism, and she travels thousands of miles to surprise him for Christmas, only to realise that the real Josh (Jimmy O Yang) has catfished her by using photos of a man named Tag. Natalie strikes a deal with Josh that she will pretend to be his girlfriend until Christmas if he were to help her explore a relationship with Tag.

Director: Hernán Jiménez

Cast: Nina Dobrev, Jimmy O Yang, Darren Barnet

Streaming on: Netflix

Love Hard simply isn’t for those seeking intense stories. These are rehashes of tried and tested templates. For instance, Josh’s actions are justified by this film on account of his inhibitions and insecurities. And the longer it focuses on his characterisation, the more evident the eventual twist becomes. As the 13+ certificate suggests, this is a film that is aimed at younger teens. It tries to tell them that good looks aren’t everything, but the how of the story… That isn’t exactly bursting with innovation. 

Even teenagers may find some of the ideas used in the movie far too simplistic. The subplots are clichéd, the storytelling devoid of gratifying punches. The idea about Josh’s father and late grandfather might seem well-intentioned, but then again, there’s no surprise. The characters are caricaturish, and even Natalie, who is an ‘expert’ in dating, seems clueless too often. The humour and performances are saving graces in this film.

Love stories are forever, but some familiar templates do need a correction to suit modern sensibilities and evolving society. Love Hard attempts this, and it is commendable that it has Asian characters in the centre. However, there are issues. For instance, the only non-heterosexual character is the bad boss. What does it tell the audience about the film’s intentions? 

It’s important when you are retelling a traditional story that innovation comes through other aspects. Dating apps continue to be all the rage, sure, but even in the film’s handling of this idea, there’s fatigue. Love Hard may not be worth swiping right on.

Rating:
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