“Even rebels need a place to come home to.”
Because the teenage years are a bridge between childhood and adulthood, they have attracted storytellers. Coast, from directors Jessica Hester and Derek Schweickart, is the most recent coming-of-age story, this one with a decidedly female perspective.
Sixteen year old Abby (Fatima Patcek) is bored with life in her small coastal town in Central California. Her mother is worn out from working as a nurse and the stress of going through a divorce. Abby and her cohort of friends are looking for more from life than they think their town offers. When a band gets stuck in town, Abby and one of the band members are immediately attracted. Abby is invited to join them when their bus is fixed. It would mean a way out of town, away from the school she sees as unimportant, and the emptiness she feels.
The coming-of-age genre has often focused on rebellion and generational conflicts. Those play key roles in this story as well. Abby doesn’t have the angst of Jim Start in Rebel Without a Cause, but that’s probably an unfair comparison. Rather she is filled with ennui. That is epitomized by a class assignment she has been dragging her feet over: a hometown history paper. Her other friends are just as dismissive about the assignment, but in doing it find value in their family stories that have brought them to this place. They may even find that the lives of their parents are not as bad as they have thought.
A part of the rebellion of adolescence is the breaking of rules. Cutting class and drinking are the rules that Abby and her friends break. But we are reminded that all generations have broken rules and made unwise choices as they grew up. As Abby’s mother talks to a patient in the hospital, they relate some of those choices that changed their lives—for good or ill.
For Abby this is not just about the boredom of small town life; it is about trying to find who she is. Is she to be defined by her hometown history, by the choices she makes now, by how other people see her? We see her grow through her response to the same comment at two points in the film. When her boyfriend says, “You’re amazing” when they first meet, she responds “Me?” But later when she has determined what course she will take, he says that again and she responds, “Yeah, I know.”
Coast is in select theaters and available on VOD.
Photos courtesy of Cinedigm.