Time: 111 Minutes
Emilia Jones as Ruby Rossi
Troy Kotsur as Frank Rossi
Daniel Durant as Leo Rossi
Marlee Matlin as Jackie Rossi
Eugenio Derbez as Bernardo “Mr. V” Villalobos
Ferdia Walsh-Peelo as Miles
Director: Sian Heder
Ruby is the only hearing member of a deaf family from Gloucester, Massachusetts. At 17, she works mornings before school to help her parents and brother keep their fishing business afloat. But in joining her high school’s choir club, Ruby finds herself drawn to both her duet partner and her latent passion for singing.
Going into CODA, I only knew a few things about it. I just knew that it was a movie about a deaf family, it was from Apple, and it was a notable awards contender. I went in only knowing those things and it turned out to be much better than I was even expecting. It is certainly a familiar kind of story that we’ve seen many times before, but it is handled in a very heartfelt and nuanced way, and overall I think it works very well for what it is.
CODA is certainly a simplistic movie with a straightforward narrative and structure. The story beats are somewhat predictable and its pretty easy to see where the plot is headed. It is a coming-of-age story, and as such it falls into certain cliches and has its fair share of predictable and cheesy dialogue and moments. I’m not someone who’s typically into coming-of-age stories and usually can’t connect with them, however it should say something that CODA is one of those select coming of age movies that I actually emotionally engaged with. It’s a very charming and heartfelt movie, and it hits the emotional beats in satisfying ways. There are some very touching scenes, particularly in the final act, and none of the familiarity of the scenes took away from the movie at all. An aspect that added a lot was the fact that it was about deaf people, which of course we don’t see in most movies, and the dynamic between the family really added a lot. The comedy also makes it even more enjoyable to watch, it’s a surprisingly funny movie. Essentially, CODA is a crowdpleaser movie, and it certainly succeeds as that.
There is a great ensemble of performances here, the cast brought together such raw emotion to their characters. First of all, there’s Emilia Jones as the lead character Ruby, and she gives a great and nuanced performance. She pulls off everything that’s required of her, and she’s very convincing as someone who is torn between loyalty to her family and wanting to pursue her newfound passion of singing. Marlee Matlin, Troy Kostur and Daniel Durant are fantastic in their respective roles as members of Ruby’s family. Each actor was emotionally strong and represented their character very well. The family dynamic is what makes the movie works as well as it does, and their chemistry is pure, wholesome and believable. The rest of the cast are good, including Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and Eugenio Derbez.
The film is directed quite well by Sian Heder, its well shot and put together. The directorial choices that place the audience in the family’s positions were very effective, mainly the use of muted sounds. I also liked the musical performances that were in the movie.
CODA is definitely deserving of the high praise that it has been receiving. Despite the familiar coming of age story and cliches, it genuinely connects with its touching story, and the performances from the whole cast are fantastic. Definitely check it out when you can.
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