Laura Linney and Nico Parker sitting on a couch together in Suncoast

‘Suncoast’ Is a Perfect Look at the Imperfect Journey of Grief

4/5 house parties

Coming of age stories are often emotional enough to watch as an adult. But then you add on the trauma that writer/director Laura Chinn brings to life in Suncoast and you find yourself sobbing as you go on this journey with Doris (Nico Parker).

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Suncoast highlights the last bit of high school for Doris, who doesn’t really have many friends and spends most of her time, in the beginning, taking care of her dying brother. At the verge of going into hospice from his cancer diagnosis, Doris and her mother (Laura Linney) are at an impasse when Doris slowly starts to shut out the idea of her brother dying and focuses on living her life as a young teenager trying to find friends and have fun.

Exploring a very specific kind of grief, what makes Suncoast shine is having Doris at the heart of it. This is very much her journey to understanding what her brother’s death means for her and her relationship to their mother.

Yes, this movie works on a very deep level when you know this pain. Understanding grief is not easy but watching someone you love slowly die and trying to just live your life alongside that is such a unique kind of hurt. But what make’s Chinn’s story work is that it still has a universal feel within Doris as a character.

There are lighter moments in the dark.

the cast of suncoast all sitting together outside on a curb
(Searchlight Pictures)

A common misconception about grief is that you cannot live outside of it. Some of us flock to humor or friends or events to make ourselves feel better in the midst of everything else going on in our lives in that moment. That’s often not what is displayed in movies. Whether it be for dramatic effect or whatever else, there are very few moments about grief that really capture that essence.

Suncoast is giving us that light. Based on Chinn’s own life and experience, it gives us a true depiction of what it can feel like when you’re not the “perfect” person when grieving. There is no right way to feel the emotions you’re going through, but where Suncoast works is in how the film lets Doris come to her own feelings in her own time.

She is constantly told by everyone around her about how she should be reacting to her brother’s death, but it is up to her to decide exactly how she feels and what she wants to do about it. To me, that’s refreshing to see, and Parker brings that journey to life so beautifully in her portrayal of Doris that you never see her as heartless. She’s just a kid trying to understand everything happening to her at once.

Just a character study in grief, familial relationships, and the typical heartache that comes with leaving high school, Suncoast left me a sobbing mess in the end, longing for the time lost with my loved ones who have passed away but hopeful when knowing that pain is unfortunately universal.

(featured image: Searchlight Pictures)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her current obsession is Glen Powell's dog, Brisket. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.