The Noel Diary: A Christmas Movie Worth Watching

by Advent and Christmas, December, Movie Reviews and Recommendations

Hallmark, Great American Channel, Lifetime, Hulu, Netflix, and many other companies and networks compete in the Christmas movie market.  Each year dozens upon dozens of new films are available for our viewing or streaming desire.  The pattern of these movies typically takes the following format: a person arrives in town, meets someone there, slowly they fall in love, something then divides them, they go their separate ways, only to be reunited at the end of the movie.  As a priest, I think it has an incarnational feel—God created humankind, we sin, we try to go our separate ways, but through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we fall in love with Him who first was in love with us. 

Netflix recently released The Noel Diary, which fans of This is Us will be grateful to see Kevin (Justin Hartley) back on their television screen.  While it has semblances of the typical Christmas movie, (yes, there are predictable stories of falling in love and separation), there is another layer which makes this movie different and I believe more meaningful. 

The Noel Diary | Trailer

Best-Selling Novelist Jacob Turner is forced to return to his childhood home after his mother’s death.  He is tasked with cleaning up the home of a hoarder.  While home, Jacob confronts the grief he still experiences over his brother’s death as a child, and the newfound grief of his mother’s passing.  He reconnects with his next-door neighbor Ellie and things change when Rachel knocks on the door.  She is searching for any information about her birthmother who was a former nanny for the Turner family.  Not sure how to discover information about Rachel’s mom, Jacob speaks with Ellie who recommends that he go and speak with his father, whom he has been estranged from for many years.  While reluctant at first, Jacob sets out on the journey with Rachel as his co-pilot.  Both Jacob and Rachel embark on a journey of discovery and healing. 

The whole reason Rachel must search for her birth mother was because her mom was an unwed mother, disowned by her family, who then gives her child up for adoption.  Rachel discovers a diary of her mom’s, hence the title of the movie, in which she relates certain sentiments, such as, “Everyone has abandoned me.”  She even asks, “Doesn’t God forgive mistakes?”  This storyline reminds believers who are pro-life to help individuals who are in crisis, to walk with them, and not to judge or abandon them. 

What Catholics Should Know About The Noel Diary

The story has a morally conflicting storyline of a sexual encounter between Jacob and Rachel, even though Rachel is engaged.  Her engagement is something she needs to come to terms with by the movie’s end if there is going to be a Christmas movie happily ever after.    

Rachel’s search for her birth mother and Jacob’s healing journey with his family both past and present make The Noel Diary an enjoyable movie this Christmas season.

Fr. Looney’s Rating: 7/10

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