Form: Justin Hartley, Barrett Doss, James Remar, Bonnie Bedelia
Filmyhype.com Reviews: 3.5/5 (three and a half stars)
Christmas romance movies are pretty much all the same, right? Wrong. In some mysterious way that eludes even me, Noel’s Diary is the romantic Christmas movie that did it. I’ll explain why (more or less), but let’s get going. The film is directed by Charles Shyer and produced by Margret H. Huddleston, Stephanie Slack and Ridoyanul Hoq. The screenwriters are Rebecca Connor, David Golden, Charles Shyer and Richard Paul Evans. The story is taken from Evans’ novel titled Noel’s Diary. It is available on Netflix as of now November 24, 2022and, at least with regard to the Christmas romantic movie genre, which is extremely specific but also extremely overused, Noel’s Diary deserves a place in the Netflix Top Ten.
Continue Netflix’s inexorable rush toward Christmas with a new romantic comedy set during the holiday season. Based on Richard Paul Evans’ novel of the same name, Justin Hartley (Smallville, This Is Us) stars in the film, directed by Charles Shyer, in the title role, alongside actress and singer Barrett Doss (Station 19). As we will see in our review of Noel’s Diarythe film represents for the two protagonists a journey to (re)discover their past, necessary to have a better future.
The Noel Diary Movie Review: The Story
Jake Turner (Justin Hartley) is a charming writer of international acclaim who is busy promoting his latest mystery book, The Last Midnight. Despite telling people he is engaged, the man lives alone, with a dog named Eva as his only companion and apparently without any emotional or family ties. One afternoon, back from the last signing, Jake receives an unexpected call: a lawyer, executor, informs her of the latter’s death and asks him to return to Bridgeport to sign some documents for her succession. Jake, who had no contact with his mother for a long time, immediately leaves for his hometown, thinking to quickly settle the real estate and furniture bequeathed to him and return immediately.
But once he arrives in the small town of Connecticut and in the house where he grew up, the memories come flooding back, partly thanks to meeting the elderly and beloved neighbor Elly (Bonnie Bedelia). This unplanned trip also brings a surprise: namely a young woman named Rachel (Barrett Doss) shows up at the door, looking for her birth mother who thirty years earlier worked as a babysitter for the Turner family. Rachel is a girl looking for certainties. She is young and ambitious and determined to find her biological mother and marry her old boyfriend. She hates uncertainty, she prefers mediocre certainty to the risk that can lead to happiness. The search for her takes her (zan zan) straight to the house that once belonged to Jake’s mother. What will happen? We all get it, but it’s still worth watching.
The Noel Diary Movie Review and Analysis
Noel’s Diary is the story of a journey. Not a physical journey, if we ignore the few kilometers by car that the two protagonists of the film cover, but a journey through memories and in search of the past. Rachel, adopted when she was little, knows nothing about her childhood, except that her biological mother—whom she also ignores by name—worked as a nanny in the Turner family at age 17. This little information about her led her to wonder all her life about the reason for her abandonment and whether the parents who gave her up for adoption had ever loved her. Jake, on the other hand, knows his past well, a past from which he decided to flee at the age of seventeen. maternal depression, the death of his brother and the apparent abandonment of his father led the man to cut all ties with his hometown for more than thirty years.
The sudden disappearance of Jake’s mother is the thread that will unite two strangers on a path to accepting a past that hasn’t been kind to them, but with which they can still make peace. Although the events can happen at any time of the year, with no plot outcome, we are still faced with a Christmas movie. Although, we must warn you, if you crave that quintessential holiday atmosphere, amid glittering decorations, carols and gingerbread cookies, this may not be the movie for you. No gifts or elaborate family dinners in this movie, directed by Charles Shyer, but two different stories of loneliness that meet during the most wonderful time of the year.
However, all the stereotypes related to good feelings, the suspension of disbelief and that pinch of magic that allows miracles to happen during the Natel period remain intact. The protagonist of the film is Justin Hartley, an American actor who many of you will surely have recognized for his roles in successful TV series such as Small town, This is us and revenge. His performance, quite sincere and believable, revives the fate of an otherwise weak plot. The collaboration with co-star Barrett Doss then represents the real power of Noel’s Diary: The two have perfect onscreen chemistry that alone is worth watching the movie.
Another thing I found positive is that the two protagonists, despite coming from very different families and despite having opposite approaches to life (and connecting incredibly quickly), it’s also true that when you feel something, you just feel before becoming aware) approach each other organically and don’t change their lives overnight. They resist, as man does. They slowly blossom towards each other and being together in an experience of great family discovery makes them feel close. Is it full of clichés? Naturally. Is that much predictable? Also. Still it works.
The Noel Diary Movie Review: The Last Words
Noel’s Diary, unlike many films of the same genre, works. There is chemistry between the actors and the story is played in a pleasant and non-pathetic way. Noel’s Diary isn’t the Christmas movie for you if you’re looking for the classic warm atmosphere of the holiday season, even if it perpetuates those stereotypes involving good feelings and suspension of disbelief. At the heart of the film we find the journey of the two protagonists to (re)discover their past while trying to build a better future for themselves. Good performances and the chemistry of the two interpreters thus revive a plot that is a bit weak and unlikely, although perfect for a disconnected vision.