Suncoast — Review: Unlikable Characters Make this Great Story Hard to Watch

KJ Proulx's Reviews
3 min readFeb 14, 2024

by KJ Proulx

Promotional Artwork for ‘Suncoast’ [Credit: Disney+/Hulu]

This may be the first time writing a review for a film that I disliked watching, but really, really liked. Every year there is a feel-good drama that comes along and captures my heart, and while Suncoast absolutely did that for me, there is one thing it also did to really turn me off. I believe this is a film worth watching and it hits all the right emotional notes. I’ll get into what made this one a hard watch for me, but I just wanted to state that this is a great story overall. Here are my thoughts on Suncoast.

Taking place in the 2000s, Doris (Niko Parker) is trying to find her place in life, in school, and trying to find friends, all while dealing with her harsh mother (Laura Linney) and the fact that her brother is about to die. This is a lot for a teenager to deal with and that made for a very emotional story from start to finish. The third act of the film had me in tears and I loved where each of these characters ended up in terms of their arcs. The one positive thing in Doris’ life is when she meets a protestor near the hospice centre, by the name of Paul Warren (Woody Harrelson). Their friendship is easily my favourite overall portion of this film, but that’s honestly because almost every single character is way too unlikable, almost to the point that I couldn’t enjoy the film.

Laura Linney in particular is giving it her all as a hard-as-nails mother and she deserves an award for how well she conveyed this character. Lauren Chinn wrote and directed this film based on people in her own life, so this is a true story and I accepted that she was probably like that in real life. The dialogue here is very harsh at times though, and not even just with the mother. Doris’ friends (for the most part) are all stuck-up and since they are all the secondary characters who get a lot of screen time, there just weren’t many people to latch onto or root for. What I got from this film is the evolution of people who may need to see things from a different perspective and in that way, it very much worked for me.

Suncoast is a film that rests on the shoulders of Paul getting through to Doris so that she can see how she has been treating her family and if that aspect didn't work, this film would have collapsed…