The Noel Diary is Netflix’s adaptation of Richard Paul Evans’ bestselling novel of the same name. Starring Justin Hartley (This is Us) and Barrett Doss (Station 19), the film tells the story of Jacob Churcher (Hartley). Jacob is a best-selling novelist who has been estranged from his family for almost twenty years. However, after the passing of his mother, Jacob returns home tasks with of settling the estate and packing up his family home.

While there, he meets Rachel (Doss) – a girl looking for any clue about her birth mother. It turns out, that her birth mother was his family nanny when he was growing up. While packing up boxes, Jacob comes across her birth mother’s diary, and the two set off to put the pieces of Rachel’s past together.


In a way, Jacob reminds me a lot of Hartley’s character, Kevin, on This is Us. He’s wildly successful but full of family trauma that he has to confront and reconcile. He makes watching this troubled journey entertaining to watch while also easily pulling on your heartstrings. The scenes with James Remar (Dexter) who plays Jacob’s father are some of my favorites. It’s truly where all the pieces of Jacob’s puzzle come together and the acting is just stellar.

Doss easily matches Hartley in charm, and I love that she’s also playing a busy body just like her character on Station 19. She’s always in people’s business. Hartley and Doss have incredible chemistry. The push and pull, while frustrating is also incredibly understandable.

I also appreciate that The Noel Diary doesn’t have your typical misunderstanding trope. The film finds a way to tell a deeper story of family and healing while also throwing in all the Holiday Romance we want in a film like this.

I cannot forget to mention Essence Atkins (Marlon), who plays Rachel’s birth mother. She has the least amount of screen time but eats up every second like she was the star. Also, the fantastic neighbor is played by Bonnie Bedelia (Die Hard). Every story like this needs a catalyst and friendly pusher. Bedelia does this with wit and charm.


While The Noel Diary is being released during the Holidays and takes place at Christmas it’s not your typical Holiday Rom-Com. You will not be laughing every second, there are no strange happenstances. Instead, the film tells a deeper story about connection and healing your internal demons. I would put it closer to something like The Family Stone vs Love Hard.

The Noel Diary comes to Netflix on November 24, 2022! Comment and let me know what you think!

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