Suncoast – Growing Up in Tragedy

Suncoast Review
Nico Parker, Ella Anderson, Ariel Martin and Daniella Taylor in SUNCOAST. Photo by Eric Zachanowich. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 Searchlight Pictures All Rights Reserved.

Part autobiographical, and part fiction Suncoast brings a coming-of-age story to the screen that is wrought in tragedy. Doris, a teenager in Florida is entering high school while her older brother is moved into a hospice facility to live out his final days. Battling with the need to feel normal, her mother’s neglect and to stay out of the public eye while protesters surround the hospice facility – Doris doesn’t have an easy battle ahead of her. The movie focuses on Doris’ need for normalcy, growing friendships in unlikely places and finding her way through life with death surrounding her.

Nico Parker in SUNCOAST. Photo by Eric Zachanowich, Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2024 Searchlight Pictures All Rights Reserved.

Doris’ character is one that you can easily relate to, even with everything going on in her life around her she wants nothing but a glimmer of normalcy. The movie centers around her, but on the side of the film is the right-to-life fight for Terri Schiavo, almost mirroring what is happening with her brother. While her family is able to make the choice about her brother’s future, the Schiavo family was not only locked in legal battles but had the court of public opinion just outside the door.

While the movie may have an interest to some audiences because of the real-life story and the connection to the famous Schiavo case, it may be a hard sell for a lot of others. The emotionally distant mother who not only borders on narcissism and neglectful, and the parentification of Doris isn’t an easy thing to watch. Not only does her mother often forget she even exists unless she’s there to take some of the burden off her mother’s shoulders, but she even lies about her brother’s death (before it happens) to emotionally manipulate Doris to do what she wants. How much of this actually happened, and how much is fabricated? We may never know, but if the relationship between Doris and her mother is any indication of real life, her brother’s death may not be the only need for therapy.

Woody Harrelson and Laura Linney in SUNCOAST. Photo by Eric Zachanowich, Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2024 Searchlight Pictures All Rights Reserved.

While the overall premise of Suncoast is focused on both the impending death of Doris’ brother and the protests outside at the right to life (or death) of Terri Schiavo, the movie doesn’t seem to be as dark as you would assume. Yes, there are some triggering moments if you currently have a family member who is not doing well medically. But although death seems to linger around every corner, the movie more focuses on the life that Doris wants and her overwhelming need for normalcy in the bit of life she has outside of Suncoast.

The movie seems to be a little slice of the early 2000s teenage years with the music, fashion, and the pressing news of the day. It has a distinct lack of social media but begins to show the freedom that cell phones begin to afford Doris and her friends. It gives the separation of life and the technological pull that we all feel today.

Suncoast will be streaming on Hulu on Thursday, February 8th.

Overall Rating:

Three and a Half Stars Review

About Suncoast:

Suncoast Hulu

(On Hulu) Inspired by the semi-autobiographical story of teenager (Nico Parker) who, while caring for her brother along with her audacious mother (Laura Linney), strikes up an unlikely friendship with an eccentric activist (Woody Harrelson) who is protesting one of the most landmark medical cases of all time.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.