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two people and a dog driving a snowy car - The Noel Diary

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Emily Tsiao

Movie Review

What do you get when you throw two strangers, a cute dog and the old diary of a pregnant woman together? A Netflix Christmas rom-com.

Jake Turner is a famous spy novelist who hasn’t spoken to either of his parents in a long time. But after his mom passes away, he returns to his childhood home for the first time in 17 years.

Meanwhile, Rachel never met her birth mom, Noel. She was adopted. But now that she’s getting married, she has doubts about love. And she wants closure. She wants to know if Noel ever truly loved her. And that leads her straight to Jake’s.

Noel was Jake’s nanny while she was pregnant. And while she lived with his family, she kept a diary—a diary which Jake’s mom held onto for 35 years.

Together, maybe they’ll be able to find out what happened to Noel after she gave birth. And maybe Jake will find some closure of his own.

Positive Elements

We learn that the Turners took Noel in after her own parents kicked her out. Noel then brought great comfort to the Turner family after the sudden death of their oldest son, Benjamin.

A father and son reconcile after many years of silence. Jake eventually finds and thanks Noel for the kindness she showed his family after his brother’s death. He also reassures Noel that Rachel understands why she wasn’t raised by her birth mother. We learn a mother left her diary behind so her daughter would know how much she was loved. Folks are genuinely kind to each other throughout the film.

Spiritual Elements

When Noel became pregnant, her parents told her that God disapproved. However, Noel believes that God forgives mistakes and she makes the brave choice to make an adoption plan for her baby. Jake’s dad calls Noel a “godsend.”

Some Christmas carolers sing hymns. Someone says that the “universe” rewards the brave. We see stained-glass images of Christ.

Sexual Content

A couple makes out and it’s implied they have sex (she unbuttons her top and the next morning he wakes up without a shirt on). The woman neglects to tell her fiancé and moves forward with her plans to marry him.

It’s implied that an unmarried couple spent the night together, and we see them kissing the next day. There are some jokes about inns that only have one room available for two unmarried people.

Noel becomes pregnant unexpectedly when she is 17. We don’t hear many of the nitty gritty details, but we do learn that the father of her child never reached out.

Many women flirt with Jake and talk about his good looks. One woman tells him how to make a character in his books “sexier.” A same-sex couple asks him to sign their copy of his latest book. A woman wears some revealing outfits.

Violent Content

We learn that Benjamin died at 7 years of age after a branch broke on a tree he was climbing. A flashback shows the branch breaking and the ornament he was holding shattering.

Crude or Profane Language

God’s name is misused five times. There’s also a single use of “bloody h—.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

People drink wine and champagne. A woman wears a cigar ring as an engagement band.

Other Negative Elements

Though Jake’s mom never makes an appearance on screen, her character demonstrates how grief can consume a person. We see that she became a hoarder and a recluse. (The executor of her estate tells Jake that she rarely left the house and never allowed neighbors inside.) Hers and her husband’s grief eventually led to their divorce. And even though her husband wrote many letters to Jake, she found herself unable to deliver them, keeping them hidden in a box instead. This also led to a complicated relationship with Jake and resulted in him leaving the house for good when he was just 17 years old.

We hear that a teen girl’s parents kicked her out because they were ashamed when she became pregnant out of wedlock.

A woman repeatedly lies to her fiancé. And she as much as admits that she’s only with him because he makes her feel secure.

Conclusion

The thing about closure is that you never really know what will bring it. Rachel thinks that meeting her birth mother will absolve all her fears of being unloved. Jake believes that cleaning out his mother’s house will allow him to move on from his childhood trauma.

Both are wrong. And it’s a longer journey than they expected to find peace. But in the end, they wind up with something much better than they had anticipated.

The Noel Diary touches on some sensitive subjects: a teen’s unplanned pregnancy, a young boy’s accidental death and a family’s grief tearing them apart. However, it also reconciles these problems in some beautiful ways.

Unfortunately, the film also tries to “normalize” premarital sex. We never see the act on screen, but we know that at least three different couples copulate. And that’s perhaps a message that will prevent many families from watching.

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Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.