#SUNDANCE: “SUNCOAST” REVIEW
By Amanda Gilmore
Writer-Director Laura Chinn makes an impactful Feature debut with a script inspired by her own teenage experience. It’s set in 2005 in St. Petersburg, Florida, and tells the coming-of-age story of teenager Doris (a breakout performance by Nico Parker).
Doris and her strong-willed mother Kristine (Laura Linney) care for Doris’ ailing brother. After years of caring for and watching him deteriorate at home to Brain Cancer, Kristine moves him into hospice care at Suncoast. While Kristine sleeps at her son’s side, Doris makes friends and explores teenhood.
Suncoast is a beautiful exploration of grief. In particular, how it begins for a family long before death but instead at the onset of a terminal diagnosis. Chinn expertly explores grief through Doris and Kristine. Although it’s Doris we primarily follow, it’s the explosive performance from Linney that leaves us devastated as we observe a mother watching her son die.
Chinn includes the real-life landmark medical case of Terri Schiavo in this debut. For those familiar, Woody Harrelson’s character who protests outside Suncoast against removing Terri’s feeding tube will have more of an impact. Yet, for audiences not familiar with her case Suncoast only scratches the surface of the story.
Suncoast is formulaic in structure making it an assessable, intimate look at grief and humanity in its rawest form. Chinn’s script is beautifully poetic in the way it tells the coming-of-age story of Doris while her brother reaches the end of his life. The performances will leave you weeping in the Final Act.
Searchlight Pictures and Disney+ release Suncoast on February 9, 2024.
Suncoast is in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at this year’s Festival.
Suncoast screens at Sundance ’24:
Jan 21 at 3:00 PM at Library Center Theatre
Jan 22 at 9:00 AM at The Ray Theatre
Jan 24 at 6:00 PM at Rose Wagner Center
Jan 25 at 6:00 PM at Redstone Cinemas – 7
Online — Jan 25 – Jan 28