Love Hard: Catfishing Rom-Com Is A Terrible Movie

(L to R) Jimmy O. Yang as Josh Lin and Nina Dobrev as Natalie Bauer in Love Hard. Photo credit: Bettina Strauss/Netflix © 2021.

Love Hard takes the idea of catfishing and somehow, albeit terribly, incorporates the concept into a romantic comedy movie on Netflix.

It’s not often that you get to watch one of the best films of 2021 and one of the worst films of 2021 in the same week but here we are. I’ll be honest in that I wasn’t planning to write a review of the film, which I decided to watch and see why it was one of the top viewed Netflix films. I’m guessing everyone went into this with the same idea: how do you make a rom-com film set against the backdrop of catfishing. Why would anyone make a comedy about catfishing, let alone a romantic comedy?!? The whole concept is not funny in any form!

Natalie Bauer (Nina Dobrev) is an LA journalist who pens a column, Always A Bridesmaid, about her dating disasters. When a coworker changes her settings to extend across the entire country, Natalie meets Josh (Jimmy O. Yang) through the app. They have so much in common but when Josh wishes Natalie would spend Xmas with him, she ends up surprising him. What she finds out is that Josh is using a photo of Tag (Darren Barnet) on his profile. In typical comedy fashion, her luggage does not make it across the country to Lake Placid.

For the moment, let’s ignore the part where Josh lives in his parents’ basement. It doesn’t matter where he lives because the film shouldn’t work in any way. Any rational person would immediately fly back home upon learning they were catfished. What does Natalie do? She fakes being Josh’s girlfriend while Josh tells her about Tag’s interests. Natalie fell in love with Tag’s looks so of course, she wants to start going out with him. Oh yeah, they have nothing remotely in common. Everything about this film is based on lies but because it’s a rom-com, Natalie and Josh are destined to end up together. Listen, when you watch one rom-com, you’ve watched them all. This film plays to all of the genre tropes.

But nothing about this film should work. Natalie and Josh should not end up together. Natalie might be a hopeless romantic but why should she fall for a liar? It’s one thing if Josh were truthful from the start. But he’s not. His own profile photos were not drawing many swipes. Three swipes if I recall correctly.

Love Hard does not reinvent or break new ground in the rom-com genre but delivers the wrong message about catfishing and finding love. Love Hard just might be the lowest of lows for Netflix rom-coms. You’re better off watching any of their Oscar contenders or Red Notice.

DIRECTOR: Hernán Jiménez
SCREENWRITERS: Danny Mackey and Rebecca Ewing
CAST: Nina Dobrev, Jimmy O. Yang, Darren Barnet, James Saito, Harry Shum Jr., Mikaela Hoover, Heather McMahan, Althea Kaye, Rebecca Staab, Matty Finochio, and Fletcher Donovan

Netflix released Love Hard on November 5, 2021.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.