The first line of thought one would have when they see Abby (Fatima Ptacek), the protagonist of Jessica Hester & Derek Schweickart’s “Coast” is that she is a restless and rebellious teenager. The opening sequence finds her getting her nose pierced by her friends, sans any professional help and/or worrying about what it might do to her. To add to that, she is almost always out at night; letting her mother, who works a nightshift, believe that she is having sleepovers with her friends.
The fracture in her life is not visible at first; a headstrong attitude, a great understanding of music, and an overall persona that screams “I’ve got this together,” dissuades us from the issue at hand. Slowly, and eventually, it does bring us toward the central conflict, which also moves us away from a surprisingly good screen presence from Fatima Ptacek.
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Abby, is in fact, a typical coming-of-age story with daddy issues and a longing for escaping the shithole of a town she is in. It doesn’t help that the writing in and around her character is so single-dimensional that a couple of sequences that do have any gravitas are diluted by the formulaic treatment and amateurish editing.
Taking up pages from the book of Lady Bird, Abby is structured as a rebel who knows what she wants. However, in spite of that, writer Cindy Kitagawa gives her the most generic plot progression. Her falling in love with Dave (Kane Ritchotte) over their shared music taste and a few exchanges about their parents feels like an instant cop-out.
In addition to that, there are 2 subplots that clearly don’t do anything to move “Coast” forward, other than adding a handful of minutes to a film that already feels long. One of those subplots is so weirdly superimposed that you wonder why the great Melissa Leo would agree to partake in it.
Overall, the only redeeming quality that the film posses is a shining star in Fatima Ptacek. Known for voicing “Dora the Explorer” the young actress has a clearly neat screen presence and with better-written material at hand, she could bring more complexity to the screen. Sadly, “Coast” is not that film. It doesn’t just lack complexity, but also insight into the world of teenagers. Perhaps a little more audacity would have helped it make a leap.