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Love the Hard Way
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Reviews & Ratings for
Love the Hard Way More at IMDbPro »

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22 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

sigh...

9/10
Author: Sarah (gunstreetgrrrl@aol.com) from Denver, CO
1 August 2003

Adrien Brody, will you marry me?

Proposals aside, once again, Brody proves why he deserved his Oscar (and that kiss from Halle Berry). He gives a beautiful, touching performance here as a charming, rakish, snakeskin-jacket-wearing con artist who falls in love with a girl from the right side of the tracks. Jack Grace is no ordinary sleazeball, though. He keeps a secret storage unit seperate from the apartment he shares with his partner-in-crime Charlie (Jon Seda), where he keeps first editions of classic novels (he has a penchant for Melville) and works on his own novel. In other words, he's exactly the kind of bad boy that would attract intellectual Claire (Charlotte Ayanna), a beautiful, unstable biology major at Columbia. Claire tells him she likes movies best that make her cry, and he does his best to oblige her, ultimately sending her on a self-destructive bender that makes him look like a good boy.

Brody carries this film, and the lovely Charlotte Ayanna is unfortunately not given nearly as much to work with. She spends most of her time alternating between trying to change him (we all know how well that works), and having hysterics, and then finally goes on to attempt to prove that she can exist in his world and take the kinds of risks that he gets off on. The romance between the two is not well-developed at the beginning, either, so though we see plenty in him that makes us believe she loves him, we don't see what has gone on between them. Brody, however, makes up the slack in the script with every shot of his wonderfully expressive eyes. He is the walking, talking answer to the question, "Why do good girls like bad boys?"

Unfortunately, this film only had a limited engagement at the Starz Film Center, and as far as I know, does not have any wider distribution. This is a shame, particularly after Brody's Oscar win this year, and I hope that this will change and that more people will get to see this movie and see one of the most talented actors of his generation in action.

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18 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

WOW

10/10
Author: Marie (Utoepeea) from Los Angeles, CA
19 June 2003

Wow I cannot believe there is only one other comment for this movie. I have to agree about this movie staying with you. For almost two hours I was completely involved with two people I will never really know, yet for some reason it has changed me in some strange way. I watched the movie and like the others in the theater had the same rollercoster ride of feelings, but it was not until after I left the theater that I had an abundance of emotions come over me. The acting was amazing all the way around, story was an A+. I work hard for the money I make and for the high price I paid for admission, it was all worth it for this great creative process! I suggest that everyone support their local small theater when this film comes around to your town!!

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A Beautifully Realistic Love Story

10/10
Author: hemily (hemily@comcast.net) from New Jersey
11 May 2004

This is a must for every Adrien Brody fan out there. Despite the dismal reviews this little known movie received, this movie is a true gem. Set in New York, Adrien plays Jack, a streetsmart con man who with his partner,Charlie, played by John Seda, rip off foreign businessman. Their actress friends pretend to be hookers, and seduce the businessmen, then Jack and Charlie break in dressed as policemen and make a fake arrest. In private, Jack is hard at work writing a novel, and frequently visits a run down movie theater where he meets Claire, played by Charlotte Ayanna. Claire is a "good girl" graduate student who eagerly ignores warnings not to date Jack. Jack is drawn to her innocence, while she is drawn to his charms and cleverness. Their first date begins with a pleasent little dinner and ends with a night of steamy sex in Jack's bed. From here the relationship becomes doomed. As the police slowly close in on Jack and Charlie, Jack does everything possible to end the relationship with Claire, it is at this point that they both begin to self-distruct. Their self-distruction leads them down a path that becomes a serious dose of reality for Claire and Jack. It's a story of love, jealousy, sex, betrayal, crime, suicide, it's a realistic love story and a lesson of everything that should not happen in a relationship.

Adrien Brody is outstanding in this one, and Charlotte Ayanna is also good. This is truely one of Adrien's best.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Love Hurts

8/10
Author: styx0r from United States
8 August 2005

This movie is not a high dollar production. It doesn't need to be. This movie is emotional, intellectual, heart-wrenching and sadly beautiful. I experienced a similar overall feeling from watching "Gia" - a movie about supermodels and the pitfalls of modeling (That happens to be Angelina Jolie's best film - unlike her others, and worth watching.) What Love the Hard Way has, that other films don't, are characters who you really connect with. Not because you share things in common with them, but because they are multi-faceted beings with enough background story to deeply invest the viewer in their fate.

This review/comment isn't going like I had planned. I think the IMDb rating of this film is far too low, and I think those people who gave it a low score were either not paying attention, or not allowing themselves to do so.

Which isn't surprising, because this film is hard to watch at times. Not because it's dull or poorly constructed, but because you don't want to feel the pain.

Watch it. The Ying and Yang are in full blossom here.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Preposterous

2/10
Author: pinmonk-it from United States
4 February 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm not going to finish watching this movie. I just can't buy much of anything about this movie. Everything from the lead actresses fake breasts to the improbable con jobs they run is just completely, literally unbelievable in any sense.

Brody doesn't seem like a criminal - definitely not a rough, intimidating one - and it is difficult to see what about him would lure the girl out of her college world. It's even more difficult to see how she could go from someone who is sweet, sharp-witted, and presumably of near-genius IQ given her position in school, to someone suicidally stupid enough to serially risk getting murdered or contracting AIDS... especially since this transformation seemed to happen all in the one scene where she sees what she must have suspected was happening anyway: Brody in bed with another girl. I could go on picking it apart, but it isn't worth the time.

Movies like this really aggravate me because it is obvious that a lot of talented people were involved, but the writers/producers have produced little more than a stylish insult to human intelligence. I get the feeling that what we are dealing with here is people coming from a cushy film-geek background aspiring to be hipsters, as opposed to people with something to say and/or a basis in real experience.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Yuck, I Hated This Movie

3/10
Author: chicagopoetry from United States
18 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I can't believe Ebert and Roeper gave this two BIG thumbs up, the only reason I bothered to watch it in the first place. I couldn't stand Love The Hard Way. It made absolutely no sense. There was no chemistry between the Adrien Brody and Charlotte Ayanna, despite two scenes during which she sticks her naked breasts into the camera, making this a horrible romance, and it was also an idiot crime thriller as well. The relationship between the two main characters had no motivation. The characters (most of whom just disappear after a while as if they were never important in the first place) never really get developed, and I'm talking even the main ones despite nearly two hours concentrating on them. Pam Grier floats around as sluggish as ever in a miscast role as a policewoman hot on their trail, I guess, I suppose, I really don't know actually. First Claire likes Jack and he just uses her, then she starts prostituting herself nearly to death and suddenly he cares, then he doesn't show up one night so she slits her wrists and we think she's dead, then two years later he gets out of jail and comes back to the same apartment, condo, squatter's crash palace or whatever the hell is still there waiting for him, and they get back together. WTF? Who cares? I actually stopped watching this about two thirds through because I was so bored but then finished it the next day just out of curiosity only to my disappointment. Blah!

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Bad boy Jack meets good girl Claire--Can it work?

8/10
Author: astanford-1 from United States
26 July 2006

This well-acted, twisted, bittersweet story was a pleasant surprise. After admiring Adrien Brody's haunted portrayal of the pianist trapped in Nazi Germany, I wondered if he could really be that good of an actor, maybe it was just the genius of Polanski's direction. This role proved his talent is real for me. It is a contemporary tale about a hustler who secretly longs to be an author who becomes attracted to a comely coed who is studying to become a scientist. They couldn't be more different, yet they form a connection that changes their lives forever. The actress who plays Claire has beautiful sky-blue eyes and a nubile body as brilliant as her mind. Jack is not prepared for a woman like her. His friends are his partners in crime but he is the boss, he has all the answers, until he meets his match in a vice detective played by the always great Pam Grier. What will the future hold for him? Rent this movie and see. You won't be sorry.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

What I Did For "Love..." -- Watched This Bummer Flick, That's What!

5/10
Author: Dorian Tenore-Bartilucci (dtb) from Whitehall, PA
4 February 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

LOVE THE HARD WAY (LtHW) and NOTHING TO LOSE would be an appropriate Adrien Brody double-feature because both had me muttering `Dumbass!' every time the protagonists acted like jerks. Don't blame Brody; he and the cast did their best with the material they had. LtHW was a shelved indie released to cash in on Brody's post-Oscar fame. Alas, this alleged romantic crime drama proves that some unreleased films should stay that way! Maybe something got lost in translation as German co-writer/director Peter Sehr and French co-writer Marie Noelle adapted a Chinese novel into a New York story with mostly American characters. Guess I should've sensed trouble when antihero Jack (Brody) wears a snakeskin jacket obviously intended to make him look cool; I couldn't help thinking, "Nicolas Cage called from the set of WILD AT HEART; he wants his jacket back!" Brody looks cute despite the "cool" touches, which at least help make the film watchable, as does LtHW's striking use of NYC locations like The Screening Room, where heroine Claire (Charlotte Ayanna) works part-time, and a former office building in the South Bronx that Jack and his partner-in-crime Charlie (Jon Seda) call home. Jack and Charlie's world brings to mind the grim-and-gritty quality of 1970s NYC-set thrillers (or maybe it's just the DVD's dingy print :-). The guys support themselves with thievery and con jobs. Their female confederates play hookers luring unsuspecting foreign businessmen in posh Manhattan hotels, only to have Jack and Charlie bust in, posing as cops willing to accept "bribes" from the eager-for-secrecy businessmen. These scams are LtHW's best bits, but then, I enjoy con games as long as they're only in movies! :-) However, Jack supposedly has a poet's soul beneath his streetwise demeanor, writing the Great American Pulp Fiction Novel in his spare time. He meets clean-cut Columbia University student Claire, and as the apparent opposites attract, the film turns schizoid. Despite his attraction to her, Jack realizes he and Claire are from different worlds -- but when he dumps her, angelic Claire becomes an "avenging angel" (her words) as she refuses to take no for an answer (Jack's told her all along what a scoundrel he is, so you'd think she'd have seen it coming -- especially after catching him in bed with one of the bogus "hookers"!), sending everyone involved on a downward spiral as I kept checking the clock to see how much longer this dreariness would go on. The actors are fine, but the script feels like a series of sample film noir scenes somebody wrote for film school, not a well-rounded story with any sense of internal logic. Though Brody's acting is terrific and he looks great (despite that jacket :-), the script and sluggish pacing defeats him, rendering Jack more obnoxious and smug than sexy and charismatic. Jack and Charlie are apparently supposed to be lovable rogues, but when Claire's ex and his Columbia U. pals start a fight with Jack and Charlie at a local night spot, I rooted for the collegians to mop the floor with them. (SPOILER ALERT...I cheered aloud when Detective Linda Fox finally catches the schemers red-handed and hauls 'em to the hoosegow for a 2-year stretch!...END SPOILER ALERT) As Claire, pretty Ayanna has a likable presence. She and Brody generate heat in their love scenes (which at least perk up the dour proceedings -- especially Brody's lean, sexy physique! Yum! :-), but screenwriters Sehr and Noelle seem unsure what she's supposed to be. Good-girl Claire is described as complex and multifaceted, but she merely comes off as erratic: first she's a jaded banterer, then a sweet, lovestruck babe-in-the-woods, then a possessive, self-destructive FATAL ATTRACTION type. Then sleazeball Jack suddenly shows a sensitive side as well as literary aspirations, schlepping around in a guilt-ridden, devastated daze as Claire shoehorns herself into the hooker/businessman scam, degrading herself in every way to teach Jack a lesson. Apart from the stupidity of degrading yourself instead of degrading the person who's done you wrong, if Sehr and Noelle wanted to make a movie about such a person, why didn't they foreshadow the characters' nutjob potential instead of having it happen out of nowhere? I felt like I was switching channels between several different glum, no-fun movies! Still, every so often there are amusing scenes taunting us with what LtHW might've been with better writing and directing; for example, Jack has a tape of traffic noises with which he fools people who call him on his cell phone wondering where he is. As a writer, I also enjoyed the scenes with Jack in his self-storage space writing his novel-in-progress. Pam Grier gives the film wit and style as Linda Fox, the undercover detective playing cat-and-mouse with Jack and Charlie. When Fox catches Jack with the faux-hookers' hotel room number, #1865, and tries to nail him with it, the guys cover up by pretending they're history buffs (Jack: "{1865 is} the year of Lee's surrender at Appomattox." Charlie: "It was a dark day for the Confederacy, ma'am."). Like Claire's loony behavior, this bit of daftness comes from nowhere, but at least it's funny and clever! Another atypically breezy scene: the playful "interview" between Jack and "future Nobel Prize winner" Claire. Too bad the fun's leeched from even that scene later on when we hear a tape of it under tragic circumstances; it's like LtHW hates to actually *entertain* its audience for long. The DVD cover screams "Academy Award Winner* Adrien Brody," with the asterisk meaning "*For Best Actor in 2002's THE PIANIST." I half-expected to see another asterisk next to the banner "'Two BIG Thumbs UP' -- Ebert & Roeper," since I can't imagine why they gave this depressing mess even one little thumb up, let alone 2 BIG Thumbs Up. To paraphrase Webb Wilder in HORROR HAYRIDE, I gave it a finger! :-)

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A bit more than a footnote to The Pianist, but only just

Author: Chris Knipp from Berkeley, California
29 November 2003

It's fun to watch the now famous Adrien Brody interact with the warm and pretty Charlotte Ayanna, the great Jon Seda of Homicide, and that Tarantino-revived 70's icon Pam Grier. Love the Hard Way has a more than decent cast that works well together: Brody has good chemistry with both Ayanna and Seda, and the New York of the movie has good chemistry too: it's real and beautiful without being obtrusive. The German director and the French cinematographer may be why the town has such a fresh look in this movie.

The clothes, however, are obtrusively bad -- it's lucky Brody has a model's body and Seda is hunky, or those duds would make us laugh them off the screen.

The German director's adaptation of a Chinese novel translated to New York may be a bit secondhand. Nonetheless it's not uninteresting to have a pimp/extortionist who's also a budding writer: the film and the actor are intelligent enough to make us entertain the possibility of the two people in one body.

But despite various points of interest, none of it quite works.

I wasn't convinced that any of this stuff was real--the emotional collapse of the petty criminal, the descent into prostitution of the brilliant med student, or their miraculous coming together two years later after prison and a botched suicide.

The trouble with the attempt to establish a hard-edged milieu is that what Brody and Seda's characters are doing doesn't seem ugly enough: the bedroom scams are too pat, and too independent of the outside big city world of crime. The big bachelor pad isn't mean and sleazy enough either; nothing is: I can't quite believe in Brody as a bad guy. The early scenes where Brody and Ayanna are wooing each other start him off not looking hard at all; in fact he just seems like a nice cocky young Jewish boy who's full of himself and bursting with joie de vivre. He could easily be a college student just playing tough and low-life to seem sexy to a studious, well brought up girl. His pimp clothes and pimp manner don't fit him right and just seem put on to strike a pose.

You keep watching your DVD for the acting job Brody, Ayalla and Seda do. As in 21 Grams, they manage to produce many powerful emotional moments even if it doesn't all meld together into a story. The incoherence is signaled by the confused ending. This is a bit more than merely an obscure footnote to The Pianist, but only just.

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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Love is a four-letter word...

9/10
Author: Sarah (gunstreetgrrrl@aol.com) from Denver, CO
1 August 2003

Adrien Brody, will you marry me??

Ok, proposals aside, I think I'll be thinking about this movie for a while. Adrien Brody is fabulous, and I can't understand why this film hasn't been picked up for wider distribution post-Oscar. As a slick New York con artist who falls for a college girl, he is the answer to the question, "Why do all girls like bad boys?" I think I've lived this story--not quite to the depths that Claire sinks to, but certainly felt like that before. The weak points of the film are that the beginning of their romance is glossed over...we see them meet twice, and suddenly she's in love and won't leave him alone? Also, Brody is fabulous, wonderful, and his character is developed to the point where we understand why she'd be in love with him, but she is rather one-dimensional. Still, I wish I'd caught this movie before the end of its far-too-short run at my local theater, and I encourage anyone who has the chance to go see it to see it.

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