The Noel Diary (2022 Hallmark)

The Noel Diary. Justin Hartley as Jake Turner in The Noel Diary. Cr. KC Bailey/Netflix © 2022.

The Noel Diary (2022 Netflix)

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Cast: Justin Hartley, James Remar, Barrett Doss, Bonnie Bedelia

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Lifetime Christmas Movie Santa Bootcamp, Rita Moreno, Melissa Joan Hart and Lena Dunham? Lifetime Uncorked

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Synopsis (via Netflix)

When best-selling author Jake Turner (Hartley) returns home at Christmas to settle his estranged mother’s estate, he discovers a diary that may hold secrets to his own past and that of Rachel (Doss) — an intriguing young woman on a mission of her own. Together, they embark on a journey to confront their pasts and discover a future that’s totally unexpected.

Recap/Wine Thoughts

The movie starts off with a woman writing in a journal, or a diary… a Noel Diary?

Cut to Jake Turner, who is a famous novelist and is also sexy AF. He has a lot of horny fans who are obsessed with him. He has a special someone in his life, his dog Ava. Jake doesn’t want to be in a relationship. 

Jake gets a call from the executor of his mother’s estate. Jake’s mother passed away, and no one told him. They are estranged, but Jake returns to his hometown to settle her affairs and sign paperwork. They meet at his childhood home, and Jake is surprised to see it in shambles. His mother was a hoarder. 

At a graveyard, Jake visits not his mother’s grave but the grave of a brother named Ben, who died too young. Jake cleans up his mother’s house, throwing things in a dumpster, and uncovers an old piano that he plays. 

A woman named Rachel has been lurking around the house. She eventually knocks on the door and lets herself in. Her mother was the family nanny, and Rachel is looking for any information about her mom. Jack doesn’t remember her, but they get talking about music and connect over the oldies. (Later, they sing by the piano randomly.) He directs Rachel to talk to Ellie, the neighbor who has lived there forever. 

Instead of waiting in the car, Rachel and Jake go to dinner. She orders in Italian and is engaged to a man named Alan. Rachel isn’t the type of girl who is into being engaged; she is very chill about everything. 

Ellie doesn’t remember Rachel’s mother, but she says that Jake’s father would know. At first, Jake doesn’t want to go see his father but agrees to take a road trip with Rachel to see his father. They haven’t spoken in 30 years. 

While they are traveling, a notebook falls out of his backpack. He picked it up on his way out, and inside was Noel Ellis’s diary. Rachel reads the diary as the movie flashes to the nanny in 1987 taking care of the boys. Jake tells Rachel he doesn’t remember his nanny and tells Rachel about his brother’s death. (He died falling from a tree.)

The two travelers stop in a diner and read more of the diary. They order the worst-looking food I’ve ever seen and learn about a storm coming in. They have to get a hotel and don’t even have to share a room! Before checking in, Rachel stops at a bookstore and picks up one of Jake’s novels to read. Then they stroll around the town square to enjoy some Christmas things. (The movie remembered it is a Christmas movie!) They watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” outside and are the only ones to make it to the end.

Jake and Rachel start to have some sparks flying and almost kiss, but they are interrupted when Ave, the dog, chases a bunny. 

 They finally make it to Scott Turner’s house, and it seems like he hasn’t left the house in a while. No one answers the door when Jake knocks, and they sleep in the car. 

The following day Jake is awakened by the sound of an axe chopping wood; he goes outside and sees his father chopping down a tree randomly. They go inside, and Jake sees that his father still keeps pictures of the family. Scott Tuner is also a social worker at the VA. Scott attempts to apologize to Jake, but Jake shuts him down. 

Jake wants to leave, but Rachel tries to calm him down. (I mean, she needs answers too!) 

Scott recalls the kid falling from the tree and shows an ornament breaking. He explains that the sorrow was too much for the marriage, and he had to leave his wife. They decorate the tree and talk things through while Rachel waits in the car with the dog. 

We get a whole decorating montage, and I’m like… ARE WE GOING TO LET RACHEL in THE HOUSE OR WHAT?!

Over a warm bowl of chili, Rachel finally gets to answers. He gives her a wedding invite he received years ago. They head to the town she got married in hopes of finding Rachel’s mother.

It is Rachel’s birthday, and they slowly dance, leading to a night together. Rachel runs off because they are getting too close. She needs stability in her life and got the answers she was looking for.

Jake is heartbroken but goes to find Rachel’s mother anyway. He finds her and tells her about the trip they took to find her. She asks him to tell Rachel to visit her when she is ready. 

Then Jake makes the grand gesture and shows up on Rachels’s doorstep and begs her to let him in and start a life with him because he loves her. She says no and decides to stay with Alan.

Back at his mother’s house, Jake finds a stack of old letters from his father. All this time was wasted because Jake didn’t know the letters had come. 

Rachel has a change of heart and waits outside Jake’s mother’s house, ready to start a new life with him. What caused the change of heart? Christmas?

Side Note

Minority Report: Noel, Rachel, Rachel’s mom, 

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Christmas Trees represent the Christmas vibes. *** I’ve updated the rating system. Wine is overall enjoyment (NOT a value judgment) on a 1-5 scale.

 I will use the following tags for those who want to know if they should watch or skip: Pour it Up (Would Recommend) or Put A Cork In It (Would Not Recommend). 

Overall rating

Christmas Feels

🎄 (1 Christmas Tree)

Enjoyment Level: 🍷🍷🍷 (3 glasses of wine.)

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*Photo Credit: © 2021 Netflix

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Lifetime Uncorked and Deck the Hallmark collide on this monthly podcast covering your favorite TV movies! Brandon (Bran) Gray & Daniel (Dan) Thompson join Lifetime Expert, Patrick Serrano, for the breakdown of new Lifetime Movies!

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