CODA Distribution: Emilia Jones, Eugenio Derbez, Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin
CODA Director: Sian Heder
Streaming platform: Apple TV +
CODA stars: 3.5 / 5
As humans we take most things for granted and one of them is also our ability to not only have a voice but to use it. In one of Sian Heder’s scenes CODA, we’re left to ponder with that same question when Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones) choir teacher Bernardo Villalobos (Eugenio Derbez) says, “There are plenty of lovely voices that have nothing to say.” It’s one of the many introspective moments this film will leave you with as you get drawn into the story of the Rossi family and their teenage CODA (child of deaf adults), Ruby.
CODA, which is adapted from the French film, The Aries Family (2014) will leave you crying until the moment you reach the climax of the movie. To put the film in a simple fork of a coming-of-age genre would be unfair to the film’s powerful performances which transport it through different genres ranging from a full family drama with comedic relief that shines through to the most moments. unexpected.
In CODA, Emilia Jones’ Ruby must make the difficult choice between her family and her new musical dream as she finds a way to use the voice that remains muffled at home amidst her hearing-impaired parents, Father Frank Rossi ( Troy Kotsur, mother Jackie Rossi (Marlee Matlin) and brother Leo (Daniel Durant). As Ruby realizes she is destined to sing, as her family’s performer, she also has to deal with a crisis as their fishing business is experiencing a setback due to changing government rules and a disabled system that does not do enough to support deaf people and their businesses through all arrangements.The film relies on shuttles between Ruby and the guilt of her family as they try to hold on in more serious situations.
Sure, CODA has a story that sounds stereotypical and has a hangover from other teen dramas such as the 2016 film, The edge of seventeen but there is one thing that cannot be taken away from this film and that is its treatment. It’s no surprise that Heder’s film took top honors at the Sundance Film Festival this year and also has a strong buzz at the Oscars.
One of the film’s biggest assets happens to be its lead star, Emilia Jones, who breathes life into the character of Ruby with a lot more nuance than the run-of-the-mill teenage portrayal we often get with youth-focused films. adult. To match Jones’ talents, there’s also the Rossi family with Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin and Daniel Durant all bringing their A-game. It’s hard not to take their family dynamics seriously, whether it’s the fun jokes on Tinder or the sex education class Kotsur’s character gives in sign language after Ruby’s male friend, Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) ends up in Rossi’s chaotic house.
What Sian’s script does skillfully is that it gives viewers silences of the Rossi family who speak more and do not need any sign language interpretation. It’s as smart as the name of the film which delivers two senses and beyond its acronym, it is also the summation of the pieces of the film coming together towards the end, like a musical coda, which simply means a passage which ends a piece. In a heartbreaking climax, Ruby’s coda comes to her performance of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now, which finds absolutely new meaning when placed in the context of the Rossi family.
A few dramatic high school shots make their way into this film as well, they manage to remain the only points that seem to remind us of how high the film goes up on the formula and a script we know far too well but also makes us realize how everything is not predictable after all.
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Sian Heder builds a movie knowing he will touch hearts on a human level than any of his technically designed moments. Kind of like what one might say about Lee Isaac Chung Minari, the film remains faithful to a unique family experience. Of course, the latter has a broader commentary to offer. As for CODA however, it is mostly about the Rossi family and their manners. From the heart to heart of Ruby with her mother on whether she would have been happier if her daughter had been deaf to the film’s wonderful opening sequence which shows Emilia’s Ruby indulging in a carefree singing jig, it’s the heart and the emotion in each image that make it an irresistible watch.
Emilia Jones is a revelation and her journey seems to have only just begun. Beware of Emilia becoming a favorite for roles that would end up in the same space as Saoirse Ronan. As for the film, with all of its stereotypical pitfalls, Heder presents a tasty film in emotional authenticity. It is a family drama with a lesson on the adult who brings pure voices, making an off-screen point on the representation for deaf actors (case example, the casting of Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin and Daniel Durant) and an onscreen lesson on never letting his voice fade under any circumstances.