Suncoast review, learning to live with loss

Woody Harrelson, Laura Linney, and Nico Parker in Suncoast

Suncoast tells a semi-autobiographical story from writer and director Laura Chinn about a small Florida family dealing with the impending loss of a son and brother to brain cancer. That sounds grim, and in many ways it is, but it’s also about life and coming of age. It’s as full of life as it is full of death.

In Suncoast, Max (Cree Kawa) as been comatose for some time. His mother, Kristine (Laura Linney), and his younger sister Doris (Nico Parker), have been caring for him at home. It’s finally time to take him to hospice because the end is near. Kudos to Cree Kawa because it’s not easy to act like dead weight when being dragged around from a wheelchair to a pickup or with people fussing all around you in a hospital bed.

Laura Linney as the mom is perfection, as usual. She’s not the most likeable here with her mind on her dying child. She regards Doris as both a helper and a nuisance.

Nico Parker as Doris is the real star. She’s excellent at the many emotional beats she must express as a 17 year old who just wants to be normal. She’s in a new school with no friends. When Kristine decides to sleep in Max’s room at the hospice until the end, Doris is left at home alone.

She invites a group of kids to come over to her place at night to party. She has instant friends, a potential boyfriend, and a life as a normal teen. Except she isn’t normal and Max is still dying in hospice.

Remember the Terri Schiavo case? Max is in the same hospital as Terri Schiavo and the media circus outside with protestors and reporters is unrelenting. Doris starts talking to one of the protestors, Paul (Woody Harrelson). He’s religious and has very different ideas from Doris and Kristine about life. But he’s someone to talk to and he helps Doris in a fatherly way.

Doris is in an ethics class in high school. Terri Schaivo is all over the news. And there’s Max. Writer and director Laura Chinn tried to tie it all into a meaningful discussion about life and death but that aspect of the film didn’t really jell. The part that worked for me was Doris’s journey and her relationship with her mom. The parts of the film that touched on ways of grieving and dealing with loss were more solid for me.

You can see this well done indie production on Hulu. Here’s the trailer.

2 thoughts on “Suncoast review, learning to live with loss”

  1. Just watched this movie and agree with you that it is well-done indie film. Enjoyed it very much. And the part that didn’t gel maybe was only to bring some difficult issues to the forefront but leave the resolution ambiguous. Without a clear ethical solution, one character still helped another to get through this difficult time, even though they had religious differences. This is exactly the kind of film I want to see more of and appreciate Virginia highlighting it!

    1. When this happened with Terri Schiavo in the news it was such a different world, wasn’t it? But the idea that two people with such opposing ideas could connect on a human level and mean something to each other is probably more important than ever now.

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