Netflix’s “Love Hard” surprises with a heartfelt Christmas movie


Source: IMDb

When many think of Christmas movies, Hallmark movies featuring low-budget scenes and awkward acting come to minds.

Fortunately for Netflix’s “Love Hard”, the cheesy Christmas movie manages to get the audience invested in its characters and plot without reinventing the genre’s tropes.

Directed by Hernán Jiménez and co-written by Danny Mackey and Rebecca Ewing, “Love Hard” begins with Natalie Bauer (Nina Dobrev), a blog writer whose dating life consists of one failure after the next. Casually scrolling through a dating app, she realizes there’s someone who could change her life.

Jimmy O. Yang’s appearance in “Love Hard” is fitting for the slightly awkward yet well-meaning hobbyist Josh Lin. After catfishing Natalie, their relationship evolves from enemies, friends and then some more.

With charming characters such as quirky Grandma June Lin (Takayo Fischer) and Bob Lin (James Salto), “Love Hard” begins peeling back layers of lovable characters that are hard to not fall for.

Although the movie was surprisingly investing, the overall direction for “Love Hard” was to play it safe and avoid taking risks. Although the movie settled on a heartwarming ending, it could have been less predictable.

Major plot points were unresolved after the movie’s climax. While it’s easy to ignore most of them since traditionally Christmas movies lack nuance, a movie that’s one hour and 45 minutes should be able to pace itself.

Asian actors have always been outcasted from lead roles in the film industry.
Recently however, holiday movies such as “Last Christmas” from 2019 and “Love Hard” began featuring fleshed-out male Asian leads engaged in the story’s plot.

The movie’s roles were crafted to highlight its actors and their skills, especially for Yang’s humorous personality. Other movies should learn from “Love Hard” that diverse casting should have more intentions besides scoring publicity points. There are few actors who could have performed as Josh Lin as well as Yang naturally did.

While at times chemistry lacked between the actors, Dobrev’s Natalie also became a relatable protagonist the audience grew to care for. She embraced common stereotypes most rom-com protagonists fall under, while crafting her own headstrong personality.

Overall, “Love Hard” exceeded expectations by crafting a lovable Christmas story featuring Asian actors involved in the storytelling.

Rating: 3.8 out of 5