WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Love Hard, now streaming on Netflix.
Netflix's Love Hard initially positions itself as a Christmas rom-com with Natalie (Nina Dobrev) being duped by Josh (Jimmy O. Yang), coming in from Los Angeles to New York to meet the man of her dreams. Sadly, he's been using photos of Tag (Darren Barnet) to catfish her, which leads to them working together to actually win Tag's heart. However, while Natalie pretends to be Josh's girlfriend to make his family think he isn't a loser and they fall in love, the finale isn't romantic at all -- it's dark and twisted.
Honestly, it's quite hypocritical that Natalie uses Josh's intel to trick Tag, a former high-school buddy of his, because creating this fake outdoors persona is kind of like catfishing too.
She's justifying her lie as someone seeking true love while castigating Josh for doing the same. Eventually, the jig's up at an engagement party, where Natalie confesses she's playing Tag and also doing a journalism piece on bad dating with regards to Josh.
The thing is, Love Hard's conclusion isn't feel-good at all as Natalie holes up in a motel, writing and realizing Josh is the man she really loves. It's sparked when she sees him on a dating app, finally being himself, uploading real pictures and being the bestie who tried to help her. But they didn't have much chemistry other than Natalie telling him he's got nice teeth in an earlier scene to try to build a love triangle.
In Josh's case, it's superficial and totally cosmetic as he just likes her because she's hot. Thus, Natalie racing back to his home -- mimicking the Love Actually placard date -- and then kissing him in front of everyone feels inorganic and forced. It's just not a natural happy ending at all as both haven't been good to each other -- or themselves. They could have spent the holidays together as friends, hinting a relationship may be on the dockets once they get to know each other better but to prop them up as a happy couple is fake and cliched.
Still, Love Hard isn't all bad as it honors many past movies in this genre while creating original moments. However, this direction is tacky, cheesy and rewards the villains. Tag doesn't even get closure after both used him as pawns as he drops out of the movie entirely, hurt by Natalie's sinister, selfish admission.
Sadly, Josh and Natalie's lies don't get addressed, there's no apology to the innocent guy they hurt, and by appropriating the yuletide season, they come off as total jerks. It's totally unfair to see such dishonesty get a shot of good karma when really Natalie and Josh showed audiences nothing to think they're soulmates; they're just liars and users.
See Josh and Natalie's twisted ending in Love Hard, now streaming on Netflix.
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