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Starring: Justin Hartley, Barrett Doss, Bonnie Bedelia, Treat Williams, Essence Atkins, James Remar
OUR RATING: ★★☆☆☆
Netflix romantic drama directed by Charles Shyer. The Noel Diary (2022) follows popular author Jake Turner (Justin Hartley) who returns home at Christmas to settle his estranged mother’s estate and discovers a diary that may hold secrets to his own past and that of Rachel (Barrett Doss), an interesting young woman on a journey of her own, searching for her birth mother. Together, they embark on a journey to challenge their pasts and discover a future that’s totally unforeseen.
Our Favorite Qutoes:'What you may have needed before, you don't need anymore.' - Jake Turner (The Noel Diary) Click To Tweet
Noel Ellis: Christmas is almost here. And after that day, I know my life will never be the same. I’m a little scared. Well, to be honest, a lot scared. What will happen to me, to us? And then there’s little Jacob. What about him? I just hope he’ll be okay.
Svetlana: You’re going to be okay, Mr. Jacob?
Jake Turner: Okay? Yeah, what do you mean? It’s me. Of course. I’m always okay.
Svetlana: But also always alone.
Jake Turner: I’m alone because I prefer it that way, you know that. Besides, I’m not alone. I got my best girl here, Ava. She’ll keep me company.
Matt Segreto: You know, us Regular Joes can never really live up to the super-suave dudes in your books.
Jake Turner: Those dudes aren’t real, Matt.
Matt Segreto: Yeah. Tell that to my wife.
Jake Turner: Hey, are you still painting?
Ellie Foster: You might as well ask if I’m still breathing.
Ellie Foster: [referring to Jake’s mother] It’s got to be really, really hard going through all her stuff.
Jake Turner: Yeah. What was it that Robert Frost always said? He said, “The best way out is always through,” right? Although I’m pretty sure he never met a hoarder.
Ellie Foster: I would imagine not.
Jake Turner: Woh. Woh. Hold on a second. You actually read my novels?
Ellie Foster: I’m probably the only one of your readers who can recognize some of the characters.
Jake Turner: The answer to your question, no, I have not tried a dating app. But I think you absolutely should.
Ellie Foster: I have to write something.
Jake Turner: Dating profile?
Ellie Foster: Yeah.
Jake Turner: I know a writer. May I?
Ellie Foster: You’re going to write my profile?
Jake Turner: It would be my pleasure.
Rachel Campbell: [to Jake] This is a little complicated. But I’m trying to find my mother. And I think you might be able to help me.
Jake Turner: I write a little bit.
Rachel Campbell: Really? Cool! Anything I know?
Jake Turner: You know, no. Probably not.
Rachel Campbell: No? Anything I’d like?
Jake Turner: No, probably not.
Rachel Campbell: Struggling artist? I get it. Well, I guess we’re all struggling in one way or another, huh?
Jake Turner: Ain’t that the truth.
Rachel Campbell: [referring to her mother, Noel] Honestly, just being in the house where she once lived makes me feel, I don’t know, more connected to her somehow.
Rachel Campbell: Actually, I just applied for a job as a translator at the UN. It’s a long shot.
Jake Turner: Long shot? Why is it a long shot?
Rachel Campbell: Isn’t everything?
Rachel Campbell: I’m not into all that “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” kind of stuff. The truth is I’m kind of ambivalent about the concept of being engaged. I mean, on the one hand, I like the certainty. But on the other, it makes you feel kind of boxed in, you know?
Jake Turner: Yeah, no, “boxed in” is something I’ve managed to avoid my entire life.
Rachel Campbell: I don’t know, I think being adopted, I’m just, I’m always trying to fill some kind of void. I’m always looking for security, and reliability. And that’s why I think if I find my real, my birth mom, I don’t know, it’ll resolve this huge uncertainty in my life. And then, I don’t know.
Jake Turner: You’ll be free.
'The best way out is always through.' - Jake Turner (The Noel Diary) Click To Tweet
Ellie Foster: [referring to his father knowing about Noel] You know, I really don’t think there would be any harm in talking…
Jake Turner: “Harm in talking”? No, there will be harm. I haven’t spoken to the guy in thirty-five years. Ellie, come on.
Rachel Campbell: [referring to Noel] I need to know if I ever mattered to her. Maybe you’ve wondered that about your dad?
Jake Turner: Truth is, if I ever saw him, I wouldn’t know what the hell to say to him.
Rachel Campbell: Well, maybe if you’re up for a drive, we could script a few lines.
Jake Turner: [referring to Rachel] She’s convinced me. And you. I’m going to go see my dad.
Ellie Foster: Jacob. Good for you.
Jake Turner: Well, the universe rewards the brave, right?
Rachel Campbell: You ready for this?
Jake Turner: Absolutely not. You?
Rachel Campbell: No. Let’s go.
Rachel Campbell: As it turns out, I didn’t really know about you either.
Jake Turner: What are you talking about?
Rachel Campbell: Well, I finally broke down and I Googled you.
'No creative idea is ever wasted.' - Rachel Campbell (The Noel Diary) Click To Tweet
Rachel Campbell: Because now I know you’re this like super famous, best-selling novelist, so.
Jake Turner: Super famous is a bit of a stretch, I think.
Rachel Campbell: Well, five million copies sold.
Jake Turner: It’s like five and a half at this point. But it’s okay, who’s counting?
Rachel Campbell: [to Jake, after finding out about his fame] Here was little old me worried about how you were going to pay for dinner.
Rachel Campbell: [referring to the diary] Jake, do you know what this is?
Jake Turner: No. You know what? It was in a box marked “personal” at my mom’s. I just kind of picked it up, and I didn’t look at it. What is it?
Rachel Campbell: Okay. Listen to this. “My name is Noel Ellis. I’m seventeen years-old, and I’m having a baby.” This is my mother’s diary. I know it.
Rachel Campbell: [from the diary] “My parents sent me away to have my baby. They’re ashamed of me.”
Noel Ellis: And they’re ashamed of the child I’m bringing into this world. And so, I’m leaving.
Rachel Campbell: [from the diary] “They truly believe it’s wrong for a woman to have a child outside of marriage. ‘God disapproves,’ they say.”
Noel Ellis: But doesn’t God forgive our mistakes? Everyone I know and trust has abandoned me.
'You know that saying, “Time heals all wounds?” It doesn't.' - Rachel Campbell (The Noel Diary) Click To Tweet
Rachel Campbell: Why is it that a handsome successful guy like you is still single?
Jake Turner: Handsome?
Rachel Campbell: Don’t deflect.
Jake Turner: I like to be alone, I guess, you know?
Rachel Campbell: Safer that way. I get it.
Jake Turner: I mean, I’ve had relationships in the past, don’t get me wrong. I’ve had serious relationships in the past, a few of them anyway. But, you know, in the end, they all just… In the end, I just wasn’t what they were looking for. You know?
Rachel Campbell: Maybe they weren’t what you were looking for.
Inn Desk Clerk: You’re in luck! Got two rooms left.
Jake Turner: Great! Terrific. You know, if this were a rom-com, you’d have one room left. We’d have to share it.
Inn Desk Clerk: Rom-com?
Jake Turner: Romantic comedy, rom-com.
Inn Desk Clerk: Oh, right. Well, if it helps, the rooms are connected.
Inn Receptionist: [referring to Jake] He writes almost as good as he looks.
Teenage Girl: [referring to Jake and Rachel] Excuse me. Are you two together?
Jake Turner: Oh, no. Yeah? Well, yeah. We were, you know, maybe we are.
Teenage Boy: Smooth.
'It all ends in tears anyway.' - Jake Turner (The Noel Diary) Click To Tweet
Jake Turner: You bought my book and you didn’t tell me?
Rachel Campbell: Yeah, well, I didn’t want to tell you just in case, you know?
Jake Turner: Just in case what?
Rachel Campbell: In case I didn’t like it.
Rachel Campbell: You know, I find it interesting that you write these novels filled with suspense, and drama, romance, and yet your main character, Henri, he never lets anyone get close to him. It’s kind of like what we were talking about last night.
Jake Turner: Henri lives in occupied France, right? He can’t trust anybody.
Rachel Campbell: Well, yeah, but this isn’t occupied America. So what’s your excuse?
Jake Turner: The endings are, they’re always hard to get right, you know. Yeah.
Rachel Campbell: Any thoughts on the current story? You going to get that ending right?
Noel Ellis: I found out today I’m having a girl. A sweet, little baby girl. Before I left home, my parents told me not to name my baby.
Rachel Campbell: [from the diary] “Because it would only make it harder to say goodbye. But I’ve already given her a name.”
Noel Ellis: My angel.
Rachel Campbell: Why would she leave it behind? I mean, why go through the trouble of writing everything down, and documenting all these details, if she was just going to abandon it?
Jake Turner: I don’t know. You know, maybe she thought it would find its way back to you, eventually?
Rachel Campbell: Or maybe she just wanted to forget everything. Like it never existed. Like I never existed.
Rachel Campbell: I guess life’s all about the chase, huh, Turner?
Jake Turner: [as they’re driving up to his father’s house] I think we took a wrong turn.
Rachel Campbell: You mean you hope we took a wrong turn?
Jake Turner: Exactly.
Jake Turner: [as he’s about to see his father] Please tell me the universe really does reward the brave.
Rachel Campbell: You got this.
Jake Turner: It was a day he had both been anticipating and dreading.
Scott Turner: I’m cutting down this Christmas tree for you. I’ve only been waiting for this moment for thirty odd years, and now that it’s here…
Jake Turner: Yeah. Same.
Scott Turner: I’m a social worker at the VA.
Jake Turner: Social, you’re trying to do some good in the world?
Scott Turner: Underline “trying”.
Jake Turner: You know, you left me alone with Mom, and then you run up here, and you just disappear altogether. And you’re sorry? God! I said I wasn’t going to do this. You know what? This was a mistake. I can’t do this.
Scott Turner: Jake!
Jake Turner: Enjoy your tree.
Rachel Campbell: You know, if you walk away now, that’s it, right? It’s over. Forever.
Jake Turner: Well, it’s been over for thirty-five years.
Rachel Campbell: Stop! Jake. If you leave now, you are doing exactly what he did. Right? Why don’t you just try being the first adult in your family not to take the exit?
Scott Turner: [to Jake, referring to Jake’s mother] I wanted to take you with me, but I just couldn’t do that to her. You were all she had left. I told myself that with you there, somehow she’d find her way back.
Scott Turner: I got to say it. You two would make a fantastic couple.
Jake Turner: No, no. Rachel’s engaged.
Rachel Campbell: Yeah.
Scott Turner: Really?
Jake Turner: Yeah, big time.
Scott Turner: Congratulations.
Rachel Campbell: Thank you.
Scott Turner: He must be a great guy because you are one heck of a catch.
Jake Turner: That she is.
Scott Turner: [to Jake] You grew up good. Real good.
Noel Ellis: Today, my sweet baby girl was born. And I know I will never see her again.
Rachel Campbell: [from the diary] “So I’m going to leave this diary behind. Maybe someday she’ll read it and understand how much I love her. And always will.” God, I hope that’s true, what she said about loving me.
Jake Turner: Happy birthday, Rachel. Make a wish.
Rachel Campbell: I’m way ahead of you.
[she kisses him]
Rachel Campbell: [as Jake reads her note] Dear Jake. First of all, I want you to know that last night was beautiful. And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve been thinking about it since the moment we met. But I woke up in the middle of the night feeling confused. Really, really confused. And the thing is Alan really loves me, and that’s not nothing.
Rachel Campbell: [from her note to Jake] It’s just that I’m a person who needs a lot of certainty in their life. And this time with you, wonderful though it was, it isn’t that. So, I think it’s better that we part company now, before it’s too late. At least for me.
Rachel Campbell: [from her note to Jake] I realized something else, thanks to you. My whole life, I thought my mother didn’t want me and that I needed to find her and ask her why. But now that I’ve read her diary, I know that she did truly love me, and that’s all that really matters. Thank you for everything, for going on this wild, life-changing ride with me. I’ll never, ever forget it. And, lastly, I’ll never, ever forget you.
Jake Turner: The child that you had, your daughter. Rachel. She’s wonderful, she’s amazing. I wanted you to know that.
Noel Ellis: You know her?
Jake Turner: [referring to the diary] I do know her. Yeah, she wanted to come here. She wanted to meet you in person. And I think, you know, after reading this, she felt a connection for sure, and she understands everything. Everything.
Rachel Campbell: [over phone] Jake, you don’t understand. You don’t. I have finally found something that I can really count on. And it may not be perfect, but it’s what I want. It’s what I need. Okay? So I need you to understand that.
Jake Turner: I do understand. I understand the whole thing. I understand that what you may have needed before, you don’t need anymore.
Jake Turner: [to Rachel, over phone] Look at me. All I wanted my entire life was to be alone. And it’s hard for people like us to trust, right? To let people in. It’s hard. I understand that. But here I am, right here, right now. And I am standing here with the only friend I have in the entire world. I’m staring at the woman that I love, and I’m begging you to trust me. I’m telling you, you can trust me. Just let me in, please. Let me in.
Jake Turner: [over phone] You tell me that you don’t love me, and I’ll go.
Rachel Campbell: I don’t love you.
[she then watches from her window as Jake leaves]
Ellie Foster: And you and Rachel?
Jake Turner: Oh.
Ellie Foster: No? Really? I was so sure.
Jake Turner: Well, Kerouac said it. “It all ends in tears anyway.” But I’ll be okay. And Rachel will be okay too.
[later that night, as he’s about to leave, he sees Rachel across the street, and they smile at each other]