Close this search box.


by Ron Poblete

THE Noel Diary is moving and familiar. You’ve watched this kind of love story a million times before. Man who has relationship issues meets an unavailable but interesting woman. Their paths meet because of a family member passing away. There is a strong attraction between them but can not reciprocate each other’s feelings. You know the drill.

The story is an adaptation of a book by Richard Paul Evans. Directed by Charles Shyer.  Justin Hartley from the award winning drama This is Us, plays Jacob Turner; a famous writer who finds out his estranged mother has just died and needs to come back to his old house and get her affairs in order. 

He then reconnects with an old neighbor, Ellie (Bonnie Bedelia) and meets a woman, Rachel played by the very talented Barret Doss who was in the TV series, Station 19 and Grey’s Anatomy. 

The plot

Rachel was looking for her long lost mother who was a nannie in the Turner household. She was given up for adoption when she was a baby.  She managed to find out who her real mom was, which eventually led her to Jacob Turner’s childhood home.

The storyline of two people meeting because of how their pasts intersect at some point early on is always compelling. Their shared struggles of overcoming past hurts bringing them together is what probably makes this relatable for an audience of this genre of movies.

There were some very touching and sweet moments of discovery like the lead character being asked to play the piano which he does expertly. It is equally impressive that she can sing as well as he can play the piano to the tune, Baby Won’t You Please Come Home, a 1923 blues classic from Bessie Smith.

It is essential that the central characters of a romantic drama have chemistry.  It’s good that Justin Hartley and Barret Doss seem to have that in spades. So when the time of reckoning came and she had to choose between this new found romance and the one she left home to whom she is engaged, it left you wanting to root for the relationship that was doomed from the start.

Quite the typical resolution

Of course, the ending was some sort of an ode to previous Generation X classics like Say Anything, where there has to be a scene the guy professes his undying love outside as the girl looks out of the window confused and in denial thinking it will never work.

This story may be a little worn out but then again most are. The difference is in the characters, the chemistry and the moments of human frailty portrayed genuinely. 

Holiday romantic date movie

The Christmas holiday setting probably made this feel cozy and comfortable. Like chocolate cake sprinkled with marshmallows; familiar and yet feels a tad special. Go see it with a special someone, You’ll shed a few tears and share a few laughs. It is not the greatest love story ever told. But it will do. 

3 and half stars.



We have the stories you’ll want to read.

RepublicAsia Newsletter