|Directed by||Hernán Jiménez|
|Edited by||Priscilla Nedd-Friendly|
|Music by||Mark Orton|
Love Hard is a 2021 American romantic comedy film directed by Hernán Jiménez and written by Danny Mackey and Rebecca Ewing. Starring Nina Dobrev, Jimmy O. Yang and Darren Barnet, it is about a young woman who travels to her online crush's hometown for Christmas but discovers she's been catfished.
Natalie Bauer is a Los Angeles-based dating column writer who documents her disastrous dates she meets via a dating app. After deciding to expand the app's search radius, Natalie matches with a man named Josh Lin and forms a strong connection to him through many long phone calls. She decides to travel to his hometown in Lake Placid, New York to surprise him for Christmas, promising her boss this will be the end to her dating disasters. However, she soon discovers that she has been catfished by Josh, who used another man's pictures. Natalie is angry, but learns that the man whose pictures Josh used, Tag Abbott, is Josh's childhood friend who lives in the same town. Josh offers to set them up if she pretends to be his girlfriend for the holidays, and Natalie agrees to stay with the Lin family.
Josh sets Tag up to meet Natalie and introduces her as his cousin. Natalie lies about her interest in Henry David Thoreau and rock climbing to impress Tag. Tag invites her to wall-climb, where she hides her fear of heights from Tag and Josh helps her down. Tag invites Natalie on more dates.
Natalie meets Josh's brother Owen, the more successful sibling who constantly demands the Lin family's attention. When Natalie and Josh receive praise for their duet of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" during Christmas caroling, Owen becomes jealous and announces his and his wife's pregnancy. To steal the spotlight back, Josh proposes to Natalie on the spot, to which she feels pressured to say yes. Josh reassures Natalie that he will tell his family they did not work out after the holidays. Natalie learns of Josh's candle-making hobby, which he started to remember the scent of his grandfather after he died. She encourages him to make a business out of it.
Josh and Natalie's engagement announcement is printed in the local newspaper, prompting the two to spend the early morning picking up all the papers across town so Tag does not see the news. Natalie goes through Josh's real dating app profile and tells him to have more self-confidence and use pictures that better highlight his strengths. When vegetarian Natalie prepares to eat at a steakhouse on a date with Tag, Josh bitterly tells Natalie she should not lie or compromise her beliefs for Tag. They fight when Natalie reminds him of his lie. While Natalie and Tag leave dinner, Tag admits that he stopped celebrating Christmas a long time ago. Natalie realizes that Tag is not the man that she thought he was, and Tag kisses her.
The Lin family throws Josh and Natalie a surprise engagement party at the steakhouse that Tag's family owns. Tag introduces Natalie to his parents as his girlfriend. Natalie's boss arrives and tells Owen about Natalie's dating column. Owen tells Josh that Natalie is just with him for her next story. Natalie gives a speech telling the truth to everyone at the party, including Tag, and then leaves the Lin household. Encouraged by Natalie, Josh tells his father that he no longer wants to run the family store and wishes to start a candle business.
Waiting at the lodge overnight before her morning flight, Natalie sees Josh's new profile on the dating app, which highlights the real him. She realizes she is in love with Josh and returns to his house, where they share a kiss.
- Nina Dobrev as Natalie Bauer
- Jimmy O. Yang as Josh Lin
- Darren Barnet as Tag
- Harry Shum Jr. as Owen Lin
- Althea Kaye as Grandma June Lin
- James Saito as Bob Lin
- Rebecca Staab as Barb Lin
- Matty Finochio as Lee
- Heather McMahan as Kerry
- Mikaela Hoover as Chelsea Lin
- Sean Depner as Chip
In August 2019, Netflix announced that it had acquired Danny Mackey's and Rebecca Ewing's romantic comedy spec script Love Hard, which was described as "When Harry Met Sally meets Roxanne". McG and Mary Viola were set to produce the film through their company Wonderland Sound and Vision.
In August 2020, it was announced that Hernán Jiménez would direct the film, and that Nina Dobrev, Jimmy O. Yang and Charles Melton would star. In October 2020, it was announced that due to Melton's schedule conflicts with the TV series Riverdale, he had been replaced by Darren Barnet. Harry Shum Jr., James Saito, Mikaela Hoover and Heather McMahan were also added to the cast.
Filming took place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from October 9 to November 21, 2020. The Lin home is located in New Westminster, British Columbia, and Boundary Bay Airport stood in for Lake Placid Airport.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 57% based on 28 reviews, with an average rating of 5.9/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Love Hard's interesting setup and charming cast have a definite rom-com appeal, even if the story never quite develops its main characters' love connection." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 42 out of 100, based on eight critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
- Fleming, Mike Jr. (August 1, 2019). "Netflix Buys Spec 'Love Hard' By Danny Mackey & Ex-Lit Agent Rebecca Ewing; Wonderland Producing". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
- Kroll, Justin (August 14, 2020). "Nina Dobrev, Jimmy O. Yang and 'Riverdale's Charles Melton To Star In Netflix Romantic Comedy 'Love Hard'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
- Kroll, Justin (October 15, 2020). "Darren Barnet, Harry Shum Jr., James Saito, Mikaela Hoover and Heather McMahan Join 'Love Hard'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
- Banse, Tom (November 16, 2020). "Lights, camera, action! 'Hollywood North' revved up despite COVID-19 — and because of it". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
- "DGC BC Production List" (PDF). Directors Guild of Canada. November 27, 2020. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 3, 2020. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
- Anderson, Sarah (November 23, 2021). "Where Netflix's "Love Hard" was filmed in Metro Vancouver (PHOTOS)". Daily Hive. Retrieved December 30, 2021.
- "Love Hard". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved April 3, 2022.
- "Love Hard". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved November 20, 2021.