Love Hard: A catfishing Christmas love story

Love Hard - LH_Day30_Nov13_BS_0033.RAFCr. Bettina Strauss/Netflix © 2021
Love Hard - LH_Day30_Nov13_BS_0033.RAFCr. Bettina Strauss/Netflix © 2021 /

Netflix’s Christmas film, Love Hard, begins with Natalie, a woman whose dating life is so disastrous it is a selling point at her job. Things have been going particularly wrong until she meets Josh online. Natalie and Josh share an instant connection, and their messages and conversations continue to show their compatibility. There is, however, just one problem.

When Natalie receives a message saying Josh wishes they could spend Christmas together, Natalie packs her bags to take a surprise trip to New York, only to discover the unsettling truth. Josh is not the man he had advertised on his dating profile.

While Josh is the man Natalie had shared messages and phone calls with, he had lied about his appearance, using an old friend Tag’s photo instead of his own. Josh also embellishes some of the details on his profile, believing it will come across as more appealing.

Overall, Love Hard is relatively predictable and surrounded by tropes to highlight Natalie and Josh’s deeper connection. For example, Josh changes the lyrics to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” a song Natalie despises to make her feel more comfortable. In addition, Natalie and Josh agree to fake a date in front of Josh’s family because they seem happy. All the while, Natalie and Josh are also setting up Natalie to go out with Tag.

Of course, every dating opportunity Natalie has with Tag is meant to prove she has far more chemistry with Josh, who understands the person Natalie is. Unsurprisingly, Josh and Natalie’s bond does grow stronger even through the lies they tell others. However, this is also where some of the hypocrisy comes out in Love Hard.

Natalie hated Josh’s deceit toward her and made a point to remind him of that. Josh had lied to her, making Natalie believe Josh was someone he was not. Even though that behavior hurts Natalie, she turns around and does the same thing to Tag.

Although Natalie is not faking her appearance as Josh had done, Natalie is lying about every aspect of her likes and dislikes to match Tag. For example, Natalie hates Tag’s favorite book and is afraid of heights or other intense activities.

Yet, instead of telling Tag the truth, Natalie lies about everything. Her lies keep Tag interested in dating her, but she is still being dishonest with him, precisely what Natalie did not appreciate Josh had done to her.

Josh, toward the end, does attempt to redeem himself. When trying to help advise on creating a dating profile properly, Josh explains to the group why lying or embellishing is wrong. From personal experience, Josh understands how lying turned Natalie against him. Natalie had fallen for who she believed Josh was, and learning the truth made her feel like she could not trust him.

Yet, in the end, Love Hard suggests that Natalie and Josh had bonded and gotten to know each other enough for them to look past their initial issue. Through Natalie’s time in New York, she can not help but grow fond of Josh, and the duo determines that their mutual feelings for each other are stronger than their previous problems.

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