I was really excited for this film when I saw the premise, and the cast is truly great. Author Jake Turner (Justin Hartley) returns to his mother’s house to settle her estate. There, he’s approached by Rachel (Barrett Doss), who believes her mother once lived with the Turner family, and feels Jake might hold the key to the woman’s whereabouts.
This has all the cliché trappings of romance (not a bad thing!) including a scene where Hartley leans against the car, in a t-shirt, in the rain…in a film where at every other time characters are shown very much bundled up outdoors.
There are some sweet scenes between the main couple, but it really started to feel like the writers just didn’t know how to keep the story going at points. The audience is always aware when a couple are destined to be together, and part of the trick to writing romance is almost convincing the reader or watcher that whatever stands in a couple’s way could keep them apart forever, despite us knowing they’ll end up together anyway. You need to keep the audience invested, no matter what happens, and that’s where The Noel Diary falls flat.
The leads absolutely do their best, but the pacing is incredibly slow, and so many of the decisions the characters make – especially Rachel – just don’t make sense. I found myself constantly waiting for something to happen, and growing frustrated when one character would build up towards something only to do a complete U-turn at the last second with no real explanations.
And the ending just felt really weak. We jump around a bit towards the end, and it becomes clear that once again the writers didn’t really know what to do. We don’t get any real resolution for the main problems keeping Jake and Rachel apart, after spending the whole film seeing them grow closer and closer only for one of them to practically shove the other away the moment things seemed like they were heading in any sort of interesting direction.
So yeah, a combination of factors meant I didn’t enjoy this as much as I hoped to, and it was a disappointing film to start my Christmas film season. Hopefully whatever I watch next will be more enjoyable and have some more actually fun moments in it.