While watching a recent movie, we remarked on how watching kids’ movies as adults wakes up our cynicism while at the same time, giving us a dopamine burst. We think it is safe to say that Christmas movies are similar. We believe they are nothing but kids’ movies masquerading as ones for adults. They carry the same simplicity of emotions that resolves every single conflict one has had by tying it up with a neat little bow. But to be honest, we don’t completely hate that. Over the years, we have realized that there are enough complications in life. We want there to be movies that tell us that a simple solution is possible. That doesn’t mean that we won’t stop scoffing at the glossing over of the complexities of it. But we can still allow the sweetness to make us smile. That is what we have done with “The Noel Diary.” It follows the story of Jacob as he helps Rachel find her mother. Let’s see how he does that.
Jacob’s Return To His Home And Meeting Rachel
Jacob, or Jake Turner, is a successful author who lives alone with his dog Ava. He has the sympathy of his housekeeper for that. Allow us to say for a second that no matter how much we respect the concept of family that Christmas movies try to push down our throats so often, for once, we would like to see self-love and learning to be happy with ourselves as their message. Jake’s housekeeper’s sympathy really rubbed us the wrong way. Anyway, he gets a call from his mother’s lawyer, who tells him that he is taking care of his mother’s estate after her death. She passed the week before. Jake hadn’t spoken to his mother in quite some time, so he wasn’t aware of this. He goes back and sees that his childhood home has become a hoarder’s paradise. Jake meets his neighbor Ellie, whose basement he used to play games in whenever his mother had a bad day. The Turners had lost their older son, Ben, when he was seven years old, and that had caused their family to fall apart. We couldn’t help but notice that it looked like Jake’s mother must have had a lot of mental health issues. But they are being brushed under the rug. Anyway, Jake writes Ellie’s bio for a dating app she wants to get on. Later that day, he meets Rachel, a woman he had noticed was constantly outside his house. She tells him that she is looking for her mother and believes that she was the Turners’ nanny many years ago. Though Jake doesn’t remember her, he tells her that Ellie might, and they can wait for her. But fortune favors the brave, and Ellie has her date for the night. In the interest of good manners, Jake and Rachel decide not to disturb her and spend their time with each other, going for dinner and then helping clear more of Jake’s mother’s stuff. The next morning, they meet Ellie and Ian, her boyfriend. The old man was quite suave-looking, we must say.
Ellie tells Jake and Rachel that she doesn’t remember Noel all that well, but Jake’s father might. This idea doesn’t sit well with Jake, who hasn’t met his father in over 30 years. But Rachel has no such inhibition, and she is prepared to go alone. However, Jake has a change of heart, and he decides to accompany Rachel. The journey is going well. We come to know that Rachel’s fiancé is quite in love with her, but it is evident that she is only with him for the certainty that he brings to her life. Her story about a cigarette ring is not that amazing or sweet. It felt like she was trying to convince herself more than she was trying to tell a story. So, they spend the night in a hotel, in different rooms, of course. Rachel reads Jake’s book and is quite impressed. She says that in spite of his writing, where he talks about love, mystery, and intrigue, he seems to keep everyone at a distance. It’s an added insight into his character, one that makes more sense as the movie goes by.
The two of them finally reach Scott Turner’s house. Jake is reluctant to talk to him, but Rachel tells him that if he leaves now, he will be doing the same thing as his father. We get that these are Christmas movie adults who do not understand the concept of space with strangers. But this was plain intrusive. Just because you shared an “almost kiss” doesn’t mean you get to say those things. But it works, and Jake spends the day with his father, where they talk about why things happened the way they did. When Rachell joins them later, Scott tells her about Noel, whose diary they had been reading on their trip. She was a 17-year-old girl who was scared when she got pregnant out of wedlock. The Turners had supported her by hiring her as their nanny, and after the death of Ben, she had really been there for them. He has kept the wedding card she sent him, so Rachel now knows where to find her mother.
Both of them set off, and when they stay in a hotel this time, there is just one room available. It is Rachel’s birthday, her hair is magically straightened, and the two of them give in to the romantic atmosphere. The next day, Jake finds that Rachel has left. In a note she writes to him, she says that while this trip and the time spent with him mean a lot to her, she needs the certainty in her life that her fiance brings. We have felt that the earnestness of Rachel’s character was somehow misplaced in the setting. She found it hard to trust people since her birth mother brought her up. We don’t want to go into the psychology of abandonment issues, but it would have been nice if “The Noel Diary” had mentioned somewhere, that she was seeing a therapist.
‘The Noel Diary’ Ending Explained: Does Rachel Meet Her Mother? Does She Come Back To Jacob?
All Rachel was looking for was an answer to the question of whether her birth mother ever really loved her. The journey and her diary made her understand her circumstances, and she got the answer she needed. Hence, she did not feel the need to meet her mother and possibly disrupt her life. But Jake meets Noel, and he tells her about the impact she had on their family. He also tells her about Rachel, and Noel mentions that she would like to connect with her should she want it. We don’t see the mother and daughter meet in the movie, but it would be fair to assume that they meet later on. As Rachel is sitting with her parents back in her house, completely torn between her new-found love for Jake and her need for certainty that Alan provides, she finds that Jake is standing outside her door, and he proclaims his love for her. He tells her that she needs to say that she doesn’t love him for him to leave. She is in tears but says the words. And Jake is a “consent king” who listens the second time, so he leaves. He shouldn’t have shown up, to begin with. Back at home, he finds the letters his father has written him through the years. He is preparing to leave for his place when the mandatory happy ending happens. Rachel shows up outside his house, implying that she is going to be with him. We know that this ending was supposed to signify that two people who found it hard to trust people due to the unfair hand they have been dealt by fate, have finally found the one for them. But we can’t ignore that they are also people who can’t be trusted themselves. Jake was certainly insensitive to his mother’s mental illness, and Rachel needed tons of therapy. They would have been better off as friends rather than as a couple.
Final Thoughts: What Works For ‘The Noel Diary’?
We have our fair share of criticism for the movie, but it wasn’t entirely bad. In fact, we believe it was the connecting plotlines that were the bad bits. The actual journey was pretty amazing. We will repeat ourselves and say that they shouldn’t have ended up as a couple. It would also have been better if Jake had convinced himself into talking to his father rather than Rachel convincing him for it. “The Noel Diary” reiterates our belief that Christmas movies are kids’ movies disguised as adult ones. We won’t recommend this movie because it gives us nothing to discuss. Yet, it is a sweet watch that you can play on Christmas if you want something only moderately sappy.
“The Noel Diary” is a 2022 Romance Drama film directed by Charles Shyer.