A refreshing deviation from the typical, clichéd Christmas rom-com
Romantic drama The Noel Diary is streaming on Netflix now, and it tells the tale of a talented writer named Jake Turner, who is compelled to explore his past following the passing of his mom. Jake visits his mom’s house to settle the matter with her property. A well-read girl named Rachel arrives soon after, in search of her biological mother, when Jake is cleaning up his childhood home around the holidays.
Soon after, Jake discovers a hidden journal that contains Rachel’s and his backstory in addition to explanations concerning their past. Despite hailing from different worlds, both of their experiences are connected by a common thread.
Thereafter, the two set out on an adventure together to learn about their history and discover what they have been hoping for this Christmas. Despite Rachel being engaged, there is an instant connection between them that is fueled by their journey to visit Jake’s distant father in an effort to find out more information concerning Rachel’s mom. Both of them must face their own struggles and anxieties as their journey takes various turns.
While the storyline maintains the features of a traditional rom-drama, it deviates from being a typical Christmas flick by not making the holiday the primary focus. Additionally, the two leads characters have depth and compelling backstories, elevating this Christmassy rom-com above most “love blossoms in late December” flicks.
The rom-com isn’t concerned about making fun of the hallmark humor that usually precedes these holiday romances. On the other hand, it deals with the agony of grief and the lingering possibility of love. The soft snow and cheery folks have been replaced with freezing wind and biting cold scenes that cast a gloomy presence over this tragic yet fun drama.
The movie gradually succumbs to the Christmassy tradition though, as Jake finally confronts his past and Rachel considers how her love for Jake is hindered by her fiancé.
Directed by Charles Shyer, The Noel Diary paints a semi-realistic picture of relationships while delivering a touching story of love and familial bonds. The drama is emotionally rich owing to masterfully written sequences including one where Rachel discovers her mom Noel’s journal in Jake’s vehicle and another where Jake ultimately visits his dad after his prolonged absence from Jake’s life.
The movie does still have a few tropes though, namely that involving a premise about a careless fiancé who can be discarded easily. The main character struggles to leave him, but that only seems to be the case because he gives her stability. Since it’s a romantic drama, we can’t expect much in the morality aspect, but there should’ve at least been a suggestion of an internal dilemma, which doesn’t seem to be present at all.
The drama’s captivating cinematography strikes all the right notes to lend this one a Christmas-themed touch. The movie’s cinematographer did an outstanding job of trying to capture the sequences that evoke a sentimental and uplifting mood throughout the rom-com. It is incredibly breathtaking to witness sequences like the one when Jake and Rachel celebrate Christmas at Jake’s birthplace and another where they witness the heavy snowfall. It’s indeed reasonable to conclude that the cinematography of the flick significantly contributes to its appeal.
Justin Hartley and Barrett Doss portray Jake and Rachel respectively, and excel in their dramatic roles. Justin Hartley in particular is a terrific choice for the role. To put it lightly, the protagonist’s transformation from somebody who doesn’t believe in love to an individual who is smitten with Rachel is compelling. The actor has immersed himself fully in the role and displayed all of the character’s nuanced emotional complexities.
To summarize, this drama is a pleasant diversion from the overdone, clichéd Christmas flicks that appear at this point of the year. The plot is loaded with emotionally rich and tragic pasts, Christmas adventure, and, unfortunately, a slightly cliched tale of easily ditching a fiancé once “true love” shows. The two leads exemplify that these Christmassy romances can deviate from festive genre conventions without compromising chemistry in favor of a darker theme.
Read More: The Noel Diary Ending Explained
Verdict - 7.5/10