Review: COAST

Review written by Ruby Lawson.

COAST, is an 2022 independent film directed by Jessica Hester and Derek Schweickart from a screenplay by Cindy Kitagawa, who was inspired by her own childhood experiences, COAST blends the explorative experience of self-discovery with the untarnished filter of youth.

The film’s vibrant ensemble cast is anchored by Fátima Ptacek (longtime voice of Dora the Explorer); stand-up comedian Cristela Alonzo (Cars 3); and Academy Award® winner Melissa Leo (The Fighter).

Restless music-lover Abby (Ptacek) is desperate to escape the predominantly agricultural central California coast, where young thrill-seekers clash with generations of tradition. A new rebellious friend shakes up her crew, and she clashes with her newly-single mother (Alonzo), who is facing her own midlife crossroads and finding unexpected encouragement from an ailing patient (Leo). When Abby falls for the lead singer of a touring rock band (Kane Ritchotte), she finds herself on the precipice of a life-altering decision. Supported by a killer soundtrack and breakout performances, COAST is about finding your truth and letting the music take you home.

COAST is proof that women have the capability of progressing their own narrative. Ptacek’s character of Abby does many things for me, as her characters brings to the table what I think is the closest correct representation of a struggling rebellious teen.

Abby is a young girl fighting to find identity and purpose in her small home town. She falls for her love of indie and alternative music and turns to a life of rebellion to fight her demons. The most important thing to note in this movie, which may often be overlooked is the mother/daughter relationship between Abby and Her mother, eventually being Abby’s drive to return home to the beautiful rural community she is a part of.

It is no wonder younger generations may take such pleasure and comfort in movies such as this as there is a radiance within that drives the force of the movie’s unique portrayal in its references to pop culture. Joy Division and Bowie (to name a few) guide the lead character in her development, it is not some typical epiphany that comes to her that makes her see her decisions are causing harm but the love for those around her and actual experiences that have carved her hurt. “Love will tear us apart” a hit song by Joy Division becomes the narration to Abby’s story here as despite it tearing her from her mother, they seemingly find a way to reunite through the exact same method.

Abby is categorised as the typical teenage girl which I do find to be a disadvantage to her character, her noted daddy issues, apparent identity crisis and awe of all things ‘pop culture’ is not what I would’ve expected from a production team who were keen to make a difference in light of their representations. I think the one thing that perhaps could’ve rendered this movie more unique than
most is it’s challenging of usual stereotypes. For me Abby’s friends became flaky, and I really wish the script allowed them to express more of their own personalities instead of the standard
‘Breakfast Club’ type cast (the criminal, the brain, the basket case, the list goes on) maybe breaking the cycle would’ve stripped the terms “feel good” and “heartfelt” from this movie which perhaps intended to create much more meaning and a voice for our youth.

I do enjoy the function of pop culture in this production in which it’s been used to romanticise the hardships of life in a way teenagers typically do. Despite lives falling apart behind the scenes, Dave having no father figure and Abby’s father out of sight and mind, the teens consistently immerse themselves in situations where life could be forgotten and sung and laughed about instead of pitied.

I enjoyed most of all Abby’s victory over betrayal which I guess could be her centrepiece to this story. We begin with the betrayal of Abby’s father getting his co-worker pregnant and dividing the household Abby lives in. When Dave becomes a part of her life we pray as observers of her that history does not repeat itself. I found then that my expectations were met when Dave became the exact portrayal of a “man written by a woman” as he only went and betrayed Abby in the way he knew betrayal hurt her most.

After the shock of this settled down, I really wasn’t all too shaken by this twist much of the hidden reasoning behind Abby and her mothers fighting is that they are both very much the same person and have lived very similar lives. I would’ve enjoyed to see Abby really have her time to shine on stage to capture the pinnacle of her journey yet this could’ve been something too cliché.

Looking back, it has become rather important that her final speech was spoken and not sang as there was no façade over it, her truth about her home and realisations felt purer than any song throughout the whole soundtrack, stripping romanticism and delving into the reality of things is what evidently lets Abby’s character grow further than anybody else in the movie.

3/5 – All repetition no difference.

COAST is available to stream on Apple, Amazon, and Vudu.


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