‘Suncoast’ Ending Explained & Movie Spoilers: Did Doris’ Brother Pass Away?

There are many films that have a vital real-life issue being discussed in the background, but we can only see it through the characters that are introduced to us. In Suncoast, the issue is quite serious: the value of human life. The film takes place in 2002, when the Terri Schiavo case was in its most heated state of affairs in the US. In the foreground is the story about Doris and her family, where her mother worries about Doris’ ill brother, who is in a coma with only some sensory faculties left. It’s a semi-autobiographical directorial feature by Laura Chinn, and she tries to mix in contemporary issues in this coming-of-age dramedy.


Spoilers Ahead

Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?

The protests were ongoing in the Terri Schiavo case. She was on life support with a feeding tube, keeping her alive. Doris, however, wasn’t concerned with that at all. Doris had nothing to do with Terri. She was just part of the news, that’s all. Doris had too much on her plate anyway. Her brother Max had to be transferred to the Suncoast, the same hospital where Terri was being nursed. For those who don’t know, Terri Schiavo’s husband was fighting in court for Schiavo’s euthanasia, while her parents were against that decision. The protestors were pro-life, and there was a sense that Schiavo’s euthanasia would devalue human life. Doris was too young to understand what was really happening all around her or what she was going through. The constant tiffs with her mother, Kristine, made things even more difficult for her. The introverted Doris got the opportunity to have some fun in her life when Kristine decided to spend her nights at Suncoast Hospital beside Max.


How Did Doris Become Part Of The Cool Kids’ Gang?

Doris was essentially inconspicuous in her class. There were pupils who didn’t even know if a certain Doris studied in their class. She did not really suffer from a lack of confidence, but the difference she felt made her shy. Nobody in her classmates’ families was afflicted by the illness that her brother was suffering from. Kristine always said that she was embarrassed by the family’s situation, which was quite a callous way to put it, but there was a hint of truth there. All these factors contributed to her sitting at the back of the class and not being able to make any friends. She did want to be part of the cool kids gang, but it was only when Kristine decided to spend every night at Suncoast that Doris started to feel freer to take risks and enjoy her life. It looked as if she was insensitive about her brother’s situation, trying to bring the cool kids to her home so that she could become popular while Max was dying with each passing day in the hospital. Kristine had made her aware of that fact, but Doris was just a young girl who couldn’t be blamed if she didn’t fully grasp the gravity of it all. The cool kids Lacy, Brittany, Nate, and Megan were all very impressed by Doris’ intellect, but the parties were over the day Kristine got to know about them.

How Did Paul Befriend Doris?

One of the protesters was Paul, and he had seen Doris go to the Suncoast with Kristine and Max. He seemed like the kind of guy who had a lot of wisdom left to share, and Doris looked like someone who needed it. He bought her breakfast, and Doris was not startled by his gesture, and they seemed to hit it off. Paul, a man probably in his fifties who could well have been Doris’ father, felt an instant connection to her. It’s not explicitly mentioned anywhere, but the reason could be that he had lost his wife and knew loss while Doris was soon going to, and he wanted to drill the fact into her head that she had to pay attention to the moments she had left with Max. Perhaps he had not paid attention to his wife and cribbed about some of her shortcomings, but now he could have given everything up to listen to her nagging. He could somehow get a sense from Doris that she was uninterested in what was going on in her life because she thought that important things were happening elsewhere. There was the prom, and Nate had asked her out; she had to learn how to drive; she had to get a fake license for that. Doris listened to Paul’s perspective on things, and for a brief moment, they became like the best of pals. Doris was getting more outspoken and being a risk-taker, but then something happened that just took the wind out of Doris’ sails.


Why Did Doris Leave Her Prom?

Kristine always spent the night in the hospital beside Max, and after she learned that Doris was having parties in her house, she forced her to stay in the hospital too. This continued for a while, but Doris just wasn’t interested in being a serious caregiver all the time. She was beginning to have a life of her own, and she felt fully justified in sneaking out with her friends. The cool gang took her to a club for the first time, and Kristine gave her a call to inform her that Max was dying. Doris wanted to spend time with her friends, but this was the moment she realized that her priority was Max. She couldn’t miss the last few moments with her brother at any cost. However, it seems Kristine was feeling lonely at the hospital and had used Max’s condition to get Doris to come visit her. This made Kristine look like a monster, and only we knew what she was going through.

The grief counselor, a wise old woman named Sue, had asked Kristine if she had any other child besides Max, and she had blurted out a ‘no’ and then recanted. It genuinely seemed like a slip, but perhaps this was because Kristine was losing connection with Doris. If her own admission is to be believed, Max was the only one she had ever truly loved, but it is understandable that she felt so because it was certain that he was going to die in a short while. She wanted to connect with Doris too, but she failed to find a way. Now, after the false alarm, Doris has lost all trust in her.


It was on prom night that Doris suddenly understood what Paul had been telling her. Everybody was either consumed by romance or a heartbreak. She saw that she wasn’t feeling involved in the histrionics of it all. She didn’t judge it but just realized that this could be had later in life, but Max would soon be gone, and it hit her. When she reached the hospital, Max was already gone. She couldn’t stop bawling, but Kristine, who had realized her mistake earlier, calmed her down and reassured her that she was a good sister, no matter what she thought. She had done more than enough for Max, and the overall situation was just too hard for anyone. Even Paul was there to console her, and it seemed she would be able to forgive herself for missing the last moments with Max. Doris had her own opinion on the Terri Schiavo case. She had been in line with the thought that people in a vegetative state with no chance of recovery should be euthanized, for it was hard to care for them. Now she knew that there was value to life itself and that each moment of care had meaning. However, a purely ethical claim cannot be made. Now she knew that it was only when someone was put in a certain situation that the right decision spoke to the soul.

Ayush Awasthi
Ayush Awasthi
Ayush is a perpetual dreamer, constantly dreaming of perfect cinematic shots and hoping he can create one of his own someday.

Latest articles