The ending of this film was so abrupt, it makes you forget all the elements it gets right! Directed by Charles Shyer, 2022 Netflix movie ‘The Noel Diary’ follows cynical best-selling author Jacob Turner, who visits his childhood home for the first time in 20 years, after getting a call from a lawyer about his estranged mother passing away and leaving everything to him. Jacob’s (Justin Hartley) visit takes an interesting turn when a young woman called Rachel (Barrett Doss) comes knocking on the door, claiming her birth mom worked for his family. The two embark on a quest to find Rachel’s mom. On and the movie is based on a book of the same name by author Richard Paul Evans.

There are a lot of little things in the story that are quite unrealistic, for example, Rachel chooses to binge-read Jacob’s novel through the night, instead of going through her mother’s diary. Seriously? How did nobody notice the error in that? A woman who is desperate to re-connect with her birth-mother, so much so that she camps out in front of a stranger’s house for hours, decides to finish the dude’s book instead of her mom’s diary. Anyway…

While the story is set during Christmas-time, it’s not the cheery, funny, festive kind of romance. But I like that bit about the story, not everyone is drinking with joy during the holidays, many grapple with darker demons. So you have a rich author sorting out two decades worth of clutter gathering dust in his hoarder-mother’s home during Christmas, while a young woman is out on a wild chase to find the woman who gave her up for adoption as soon as she was born, when she should be planning her engagement with her fiance.

Justin Hartley and Barrett Doss portray their roles with a lot of conviction, but while their individual characters are interesting, the romance between them doesn’t click. It should’ve been a platonic tale of two strangers trying to connect with their parents/family. Jacob Turner might be a world-famous author, but he is still hurting from being abandoned by his father when he needed the man the most; instead he had to grow up with a mother who had serious mental health issues and wasn’t capable of nurturing him. James Remar plays senior Turner, and a father-son reunion sub-plot was the most poignant part of the movie. The climactic conflict felt cliched and ends on a note does not do justice to its title.

It’s a 6.5/10 from me.

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