Suncoast Movie Review: Nico Parker, Laura Linney Star In Heart-Wrenching But Meandering Family Drama

Laura Chinn's semi-biographical drama deals with a family coping with a death of their loved. The Disney+ Hotstar film premiered at Sundance in January 2024.

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Suncoast

Critic's Ratings

starstarstarstarstar

2.5

Drama

Release Date

Feb 9, 2024

Duration

1 hr 49 mins
Suncoast Movie Review Nico Parker Laura Linney Star In Heart-Wrenching But Meandering Family Drama
Suncoast Movie Review: Nico Parker, Laura Linney Star In Heart-Wrenching But Meandering Family Drama

About Suncoast

Suncoast is a tentative coming-of-age tale in which a young woman Doris, played by Nico Parker, learns to let go and live a little. The drama, which competed at the Sundance Film Festival last month, features some solid performances from its cast, especially Parker. However, the tone of Suncoast is wobbly as it can't find the right balance between its talks of death and the ordinary joys of being a teenager. The feature film premiered on Disney+ Hotstar on February 9.

Suncoast: Plot

In the film, 17-year-old Doris barely has a life as she and her mother Kristine (Laura Linney) constantly care for Max, her terminally ill older brother who has brain cancer. As the film opens, he is moved into hospice and in the background, there is a growing debate about euthanasia as a legal and ethical problem loom about the choice to die. Another patient at Suncoast Hospice where Max is admitted is involved in a court battle.
Kristine is so attached to Max that she neglects Doris and controls her life. But the easy-going Doris finally opens as she makes friends for the first time at school and a kind stranger Paul (Woody Harrelson) pays more attention to her than her own mother does. These little moments make the majority of Suncoast as they essentially wait for the inevitable with Max's death.

Suncoast: Writing and Direction

Writer-director Laura Chinn borrows from her own life; the movie is dedicated to her brother Max Kenneth Chinn. But while there are a few poignant moments in the film, Suncoast is largely directionless as it tries to capture Doris's increasing isolation and her desire to feel wanted by others.
For some reason, I kept expecting that Doris's encounters with the popular crowd were going to end cruelly. However, Suncoast surprised me with how the cool kids had a soft spot for the awkward young woman, even if they never fully understood her.

Suncoast: Performances

Veterans Linney and Harrelson are their usual dependable selves. Harrelson's concerned activist Paul is not fully developed and just happens to show when Doris needs him the most. Linney’s Kristine is quite a pill to swallow at times, but it is Nico Parker who surprises with a sweet and restrained performance as Doris. Parker, who is known for her role in the zombie drama The Last of Us, is also the daughter of actress Thandiwe Newton. The young talented star has a bright future ahead of her as she won the US Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance at Sundance for this role.

Suncoast: Critique

Actress and writer Chinn's directorial debut is sincere but unpolished. It's like a collection of memories in a jar that can be revisited when one feels the need. Apart from the heavy narrative about waiting for death, the film doesn't expand on the potent emotions that could have shaped the feature into a more nuanced drama.
Suncoast showcases Parker's guileless performance as a lonely teenager while giving the adults little to do. Linney has one big potent scene where she slips up and admits she has only one child. The moment sums up the entire mother-daughter relationship in the film. I wish Chinn could have worked in more such moments where Kristine and Doris learnt to meet each other halfway. It would have made Suncoast much more powerful.
End of Article

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