Directed by Laura Chinn, ‘Suncoast’ takes us back to the sun-kissed beaches of Florida in the early 2000s. Based on Chinn’s experiences, the narrative revolves around Doris, an introverted teenager whose life seems to be overshadowed by her brother’s terminal illness. When he is shifted to a hospice, Doris happens to meet Paul, an activist, who becomes an outlet for her pent-up thoughts, as well as a source of wisdom. As her brother’s health worsens, Doris walks the fine line between building a healthy social life for herself and regretting the loss of time she could have spent with him in his final moments. These are some movies like ‘Suncoast’ which spin poignant coming-of-age tales of love, loss, and laughter.
8. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)
An emotional film directed by Stephen Daldry, it follows the journey of Oskar Schell, a young boy who embarks on a quest to unlock the secrets of a mysterious key left behind by his father, who died in the September 11 attacks. With the help of an enigmatic old stranger, Oskar sets out on a journey across New York City to find the lock that matches the key, encountering a diverse cast of characters and making unexpected findings along the way.
As Oskar goes through the complexities of grief and loss, his adventures and connections help him deal with his traumatic past. Much like ‘Suncoast,’ the film presents its own story of dealing with grief and not letting it take over one’s existence, which can still harbor countless friendships and adventures ahead.
7. Five Feet Apart (2019)
With Justin Baldoni at the helm, ‘Five Feet Apart’ spins a heart-wrenching romantic tale that follows the forbidden love between two teenagers, Stella and Will, who are both battling cystic fibrosis. The two meet while undergoing treatment at the same hospital and are immediately drawn to each other. However, their budding romance is complicated by the strict rules of their illness, which require them to maintain a safe distance at all times to prevent cross-infection.
Determined to defy the odds and experience love despite their circumstances, Stella and Will embark on a journey of self-discovery filled with tender moments. For those who were taken by the message of not letting doom take over one’s life in ‘Suncoast,’ ‘Five Feet Apart’ will present a moving tale that explores a painfully sweet romance.
6. Fish Tank (2009)
‘Fish Tank,’ helmed by Andrea Arnold, is a gritty and raw coming-of-age drama that follows the tumultuous life of Mia, a rebellious and troubled teenager. Living in a rundown house in England, she dreams of escaping her bleak existence. Mia’s world is turned upside down when her mother brings home a charming new boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbender), who starts to bring her out of her shell.
As Mia becomes increasingly infatuated with Connor, she finds herself drawn into a dangerous and unpredictable relationship that threatens to derail her hopes and dreams. With its authentic performances, evocative visuals, and an unflinching portrayal of adolescence, ‘Fish Tank’ will appeal to fans of ‘Suncoast’ with a similarly compelling glimpse into the harsh realities of life.
5. Hesher (2010)
In the directorial hands of Spencer Susser, ‘Hesher’ is a dark comedy-drama that follows the unconventional and chaotic life of a troubled boy named TJ. After losing his mother in a car accident and struggling to cope with his grief, TJ finds himself drawn to an anarchic and enigmatic drifter named Hesher (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). With his wild hair, crude demeanor, and affinity for destruction, Hesher is heavy metal personified. He disorients TJ’s grief with his loud mannerisms and introduces him to a world of rebellion and self-discovery.
As TJ forms an unlikely bond with Hesher, he begins to confront his emotions and the pain of his loss. Along the way, they encounter TJ’s grieving father and grandmother, as well as a troubled young woman named Nicole (Natalie Portman). If you liked Dora’s acts of rebellion against her mother in favor of living life in her own way in ‘Suncoast,’ TJ and Hesher’s misadventures will prove to be an incredibly cathartic experience. Both films navigate the complexities of grief, anger, and ultimately finding solace in unexpected places.
4. Aftersun (2022)
‘Aftersun’ narrates a poignantly stirring tale of a daughter on vacation with her father, making some of her most treasured memories of him. As an adult, Sophie recalls her time at a resort as an 11-year-old with Calum, her father. He has been separated from his wife and faced financial issues. The young Sophie saw an idealistic and caring man, while in retrospect, she recalled the strong face he put on for her and the times his deteriorating mental state shone through.
Evocative of Dora’s mother in ‘Suncoast,’ Caum is changed by his heartbreak, losing hope but seeking to do the best he can for his daughter. Under the direction of Charlotte Wells, ‘Aftersun’ recounts the subtle but heartrending memories of Sophia with an emotional depth sure to be appreciated by fans of ‘Suncoast.’
3. The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
Directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, ‘The Edge of Seventeen’ is a comedic coming-of-age film that follows the turbulent life of Nadine, a socially awkward and emotionally troubled teenager. Dealing with the recent loss of her father and the complexities of high school, Nadine struggles to find her place in the world and cope with her feelings of loneliness and isolation.
When her best friend starts dating her older brother, Nadine’s world is turned upside down, and she finds herself feeling jealous and betrayed. Similar to Dora in ‘Suncoast,’ Nadine develops an unlikely friendship with a father figure character played by Woody Harrelson. Dota and Nadine are both socially awkward at first but unexpectedly develop friendships with classmates very different from them.
2. The Way Way Back (2013)
Under the direction of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, ‘The Way Way Back’ acquaints us with Duncan, a shy and awkward teenager, as he spends a summer vacation with his mother and her overbearing boyfriend at a beachside resort. Feeling out of place and ignored by his family, Duncan finds solace and friendship in Owen, the manager of a nearby water park. Under Owen’s mentorship, Duncan gains confidence and discovers his own sense of self-worth. With its heartfelt performances and witty humor, fans of ‘Suncoast’ will be drawn to the film and its comparable narrative of a young protagonist feeling out of place and finding an unlikely mentor.
1. The Florida Project (2017)
‘The Florida Project,’ directed by Sean Baker, is a poignant and bittersweet drama that unfolds against the backdrop of a budget motel near Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The film follows the mischievous adventures of six-year-old Moonee, and her friends as they spend the hazy days of summer chucking water balloons at tourists, eavesdropping on dramatic conversations, and exploring their surroundings. Moonee’s mother struggles to make ends meet as a single parent, and she is often overseen by the hotel manager, Bobby (Willem Dafoe).
Despite the harsh realities of poverty and instability, Moonee and her friends find joy and wonder in their carefree existence, exploring the colorful and chaotic world around them. Comparable to ‘Suncoast’ for its message of resilience, ‘The Florida Project’ will win you over with its heartfelt narrative. Both films are poignant coming-of-age stories that balance out their darker themes with characters that manage to shine brighter.