Love the Hard Way (2001, 2003) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The reason for the two dates: the film made the festival circuit in 2001, then took two years before it got a minimal and decidedly unsuccessful theatrical release. This movie was actually made before the Pianist and shelved, but was briefly resuscitated when Adrien Brody won his Oscar.

Typical romantic urban street melodrama. Round up the usual plot. Sweet straight-A student from Columbia falls in love with a small time con artist from the surrounding streets. Turns out they aren't that dissimilar. He's a noble savage, actually a soulful guy with expertise in antiquarian books and a nearly-finished novel. She, on the other hand, really has the potential to fit into his sleazy criminal world, but they find that working together does not really work out for either of them. Police detective Pam Grier manages to make life really miserable for the hustler, and eventually sends him to the slammer. And he's luckier than the college student.

It's pretty much pure baloney. Take away the beauty and nudity from Charlotte Ayanna, and the only good reason to watch is Adrien Brody as the lovable, shy street hustler with a deep soul or some such crap underneath his cocky manners and cockier wardrobe.

Anyway, fuck the plot. Who cares? It's really not a bad movie (Roger Ebert awarded a triplet), but nobody is ever going to see it. It's a tweener. It is fundamentally too Hollywood cornball to wow the arthouse crowd, and it's too gritty and depressing for mass audience appeal.

So when you discuss this film, and you won't, only three words are important: Charlotte Ayanna topless. The incredibly beautiful Ayanna has four, count 'em four, sex scenes in this movie, and her exposure gets progressively better as the movie progresses. It starts out as dark stuff, Ayanna underneath, with a hint of nipple in a frame or two, but by the end of the movie she's topless, facing the camera, in pretty good light.

She is one beautiful young woman, and she has a good presence on screen. I was ready to propose to her after Dancing at the Blue Iguana, and she looks every bit as good here.


see the main commentary

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen anamorphic 1.78 transfer

  • several deleted scanes and short excerpts from scenes (but nothing very interesting)

  • stills gallery and theatrical trailer

Adrien Brody and Pam Grier enjoy a relaxing victory smoke after successfully ransacking Huggy Bear's closet.

The Critics Vote

  • Roger Ebert 3/4, but that was the upper end among all critics who reviewed it.

The People Vote ...

  • The box office could not have been much worse. It grossed a whopping $43,000 in the USA, and it took six weeks to get that much!


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C. A reasonably gritty street drama about the good girl falling for the lovable rogue - with ugly consequences.

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