Julien Neaves, Editor
My mother-in-law is a huge fan of these Hallmark Christmas romcoms. I am not. It is basically the same story over and over just with a change of setting and characters. You know pretty much exactly what is going to happen from start to finish. I can understand the comfort in familiarity but they are just not my bag.
But that is not to say to I am not a fan of the romcom genre, even the formulaic ones. Which brings me to new Netflix Christmas romcom, LoveHard. From the trailer I pretty much knew all the story beats. But I watched it and I enjoyed the heck out it.
Love Hard stars Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries, The Final Girls, Flatliners) as an unlucky-in-love columnist named Natalie who chronicles her disastrous dating life under a pseudonym. While on a dating app she falls for a great guy named Josh and decides to surprise him by showing up in person for Christmas. But the surprise is on her as the ruggedly handsome, outdoorsy white guy she thought she was talking to is actually a nerdy Chinese guy. That’s right. She done got catfished!
Instead of immediately leaving and blowing him up all over social media Natalie ends up making a deal with Josh—he will help her get Tag (the guy whose image he appropriated) if she stays and pretends to be his girlfriend during Christmas. Yes, we’ve seen it all before and we know exactly where this is going. So what makes Love Hard different from a thousand other similar romcoms? So glad you asked.
First off, the film is funny. It’s not a laugh-a-minute romcom like The Wedding Singer but most of the comedy works and I laughed out loud multiple times. And Dobrev really infuses what could have been a one-dimensional character with quite a lot of life and energy. Jimmy O. Yang (Silicon Valley) who plays Josh has some great comedic timing. They bounce off each other well and they have a sweet, understated romantic chemistry. The other characters are decent enough, with Josh’s narcissistic brother Owen (Harry Shum Jr from Crazy Rich Asians) being a standout. The movie also pays tribute to Christmas movies Love Actually and Die Hard (the film’s title is a play on this and YES Die Hard IS a Christmas movie) and as a cinephile I enjoyed that.
The film has its flaws though. The plot is super predictable. There is a scene with the song Baby it’s Cold Outside that feels forced. And the central message of being true to yourself has been done to death. But there is a constant energy that just nudges the film ahead of the typical. So yeah, if you are feeling a romcom that doesn’t break the mould but is still a lot of fun then let me welcome you to the Love Hard party pal. A quick warning—the movie does have some cussing and adult content so I wouldn’t recommend it for family night with the kiddies. But for date night, it’s a solid watch.
Editor Jules’s Score: 6.5 out of 10
And you can check out more Netflix Christmas romcom content below:
Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.