Suncoast Review

REVIEW: Suncoast

Suncoast recently landed on Disney+, a coming-of-age drama set in Florida. But despite being advertised as a fun, heartwarming drama, the end result is a lot more hard-hitting and sadly it isn’t the better for it.

The film follows teenager Doris (Nico Parker), who is stuck caring for her terminally ill brother Max and without a life outside of this and school, with no friends to name. She has a fraught relationship with her mother Kristine (Laura Linney), who works hard to provide for her children and seems to care little for Doris outside of the care she gives to her brother. 

Suncoast Review

When her brother is moved into the local hospice, Doris has more time to herself yet still finds her mum dragging her to the hospice to spend time with her brother. On one of these visits, Doris gets exasperated with her mother and storms off to get some food from the local diner. There she meets Paul (Woody Harrelson), an activist who is part of a group protesting outside the hospice against a high-profile right-to-die case. He pays for her food and the pair strike up an unlikely friendship, bonding over their shared tragic family histories.

Suncoast Review

Meanwhile, Kristine decides she wants to sleep at the hospice so Max won’t be on his own, leaving Doris alone at home. With the house to herself, Doris befriends the popular kids in her class and invites them around to hold a hurricane party. Despite her initial awkwardness, Doris’ party is a success and she’s soon welcomed into the popular kids friendship group, hosting regular nights at her house. However, her newfound friendships come at a cost, and Doris finds herself spending less time with her brother despite him being in the final stages of his illness.

When I first saw the trailer for Suncoast, I thought it looked like it could be a sweet, fun yet heartwarming drama similar to the likes of Little Miss Sunshine. But unfortunately it was a lot more serious than the trailer made out and all of the comedic scenes had definitely been put into the trailer. For me, this was a big misstep for the film as it really needed these comedy moments to lift it into something more memorable. While it is ultimately a film about grief and there is certainly a lot of heart on offer, it comes across as a little dull at times which is where the lighthearted comedy would have helped. Any scenes with Parker and Harrelson were engaging and fun to watch, and most certainly the best scenes in the entire film, but they were few and far between. 

Suncoast Review

It’s a shame really as there is a lot on offer in this film that is very good. The performances and the cast in general are brilliant. Parker is without a doubt a star in the making and makes an incredibly engaging leading lady, and I don’t think there’s ever a time when Harrelson and Linney can’t make roles their own no matter what. I also loved how this film avoided the usual stereotypes you tend to see in any coming-of-age drama, most notably the fact that the popular kids who befriend Doris are genuinely nice to her without any ulterior motives. It made for a refreshing change and it was this aspect of the story that I liked watching the most. 

Suncoast is a nice film with a great cast and some positive points, but I think the misleading advertising and lack of comedic elements really weigh it down too much.

Where to Watch

Suncoast | February 9, 2024 (United Kingdom) 6.6


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