Love Hard: A predictable love story that adds in a good cheer

Dubai - While also making a comment on relationships going haywire in an age of app-based connections


Sushmita Bose

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Published: Thu 18 Nov 2021, 7:47 PM

Last updated: Fri 19 Nov 2021, 10:45 AM

Christmas is around the corner; it’s no Valentine’s Day, but there is something about the season — the holidays, the spring in our steps, the splashes of red, the tree of life, the gifting, the food, the music floating around everywhere — that makes you fall in love. Unlike Valentine’s Day, that makes an effort to try too hard to woo you, Christmas romances are cosy and homely. But to find out what actually sets the baseline for Love Hard, you need to revisit (the cult) Love Actually: the latter has a complicit connection with the former, the details of which I shall not dwell upon (why kill the romance?). Also, according to die-hard romantics, Love Actually is the best Christmas movie… ever… and that sets yet another baseline in a Love Actually vs Die Hard (another cult film — but for different reasons) debate that sets the Love Hard ball rolling at the outset. Finally, just in case you haven’t figured it out already, the title is a portmanteau of the two ‘reference’ flicks.

Natalie Bauer (Nina Dobrev) is a young single woman living in Los Angeles, sick of trying to find Mr Right with the help of dating apps. All the men she tries to meet are not “what you see is what you get”. However, her love life, or the lack of it, has an upside: she writes a blog for a lifestyle website on her dating expeditions, and how bad they invariably turn out to be. Misery loves company, and her ‘sad love life’ tales are a huge hit with readers.

Not one to give up on the likelihood of finding her soulmate, Natalie comes across a dishy-looking man, Tag, on her most favoured app. Tag, as he comes across, is empathetic, philosophical, quick on the uptake and shares her mojo. He seems to be ‘perfect’, and, also, interestingly, he’s half-Chinese (‘half-Asian’ is what he calls himself). Only problem is he lives at the other end of the country, some 3,000 miles away from LA, in Lake Placid.

Nat and Tag get close — as close as one can get on phone calls and online chats — and then Tag tells her he wishes he could have spent Christmas with her. She decides to surprise him: she catches a flight from sunny California and fetches up in a quaint small town where the weather is freezing and there’s only one Uber cabbie (who also doubles up as the Lyft operator).

It’s when Natalie reaches Tag’s home and certain events come to pass that she realises she’s been catfished. Again, I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritties and spoil the surprises, but do watch it to find out how, despite a bunch of predictable clichés, love is best when it “comes home” for Christmas.

In a break from Americana, Love Hard showcases East Asian culture and values, and integrates them into the mainstream — which, by itself, is a very welcome move. A lovable ensemble cast and a smart screenplay — never mind bromidic bouts — ensure that it emerges quite the winter warmer.

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