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CODA (2021)

Adam Lenhardt

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Title: CODA (2021)

Tagline: Every family has its own language.

Genre: Drama, Music

Director: Sian Heder

Cast: Emilia Jones, Eugenio Derbez, Troy Kotsur, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Daniel Durant, Marlee Matlin, Amy Forsyth, Kevin Chapman, John Fiore, Erica McDermott, Lonnie Farmer, Jose Guns Alves, Kiara Pichardo, Armen Garo

Release: 2021-07-30

Runtime: 112

Plot: As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), Ruby is the only hearing person in her deaf family. When the family’s fishing business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her love of music and her fear of abandoning her parents.

 

Adam Lenhardt

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The latest film from Siân Heder is a remake of the French film La Famille Bélier. It tells the story of Ruby Rossi as a crucial juncture in her life. Ruby is a CODA, or hearing child of Deaf adults, and (along with her Deaf brother) the fourth generation of a longtime North Shore fishing family. After joining her high school choir, her music teacher validates her love of music and allows her to see music as something that could be a major part of her future. At the same time, her family's fishing business is under severe strain, as tighter fishing quotas and greater government regulation both cut into profits and make it more difficult to comply with rules without a hearing person on board. Ruby, in her senior high school, has to navigate her family obligations while trying to pursue her dreams.

Like the film on which it is based, Ruby's Deaf family is extremely dependent on her for interfacing with the hearing world. This has attracted controversy among the Deaf community, many of whom navigate the hearing world quite adequately without depending on a hearing family member. Some CODAs have said this film rang achingly true to their own experiences growing up, while others have said it didn't reflect their experiences at all. The family's dependence of Ruby is necessary to drive the plot forward, and isn't necessarily inauthentic, but should be seen as a heartfelt depiction of one Deaf family, rather than representative of all Deaf families with hearing children.

The casting is superb from top to bottom, particularly the casting of the Rossi family. You really believe them as a tight-knit unit, and the love and devotion they have for one another. Marlee Matlin is good as Ruby's loving mother, who is also the main obstacle in the way of her ambitions, but Troy Kotsur is phenomenal as Ruby's warm and perceptive father. Daniel Durant is also strong as Ruby's handsome older brother, who has grown frustrated with his parents' dependence on Ruby to function in the wider world.

Emilia Jones, daughter of Welsh singer Aled Jones, is extraordinary in the title role as Ruby. She spent several months prior to shooting learning American Sign Language, and particularly how to copy the signed ASL dialog in a way that would read as fluent enough for a person who grew up with ASL as their first language. It's a role that requires an incredible singing voice, and the ability to both incredibly vulnerable sometimes and incredibly fierce at other times. You really feel everything that Ruby feels as she feels it as the movie goes along.

Irish actor Ferdia Walsh-Peelo is perfectly fine but unremarkable as Ruby's singing partner and love interest, who envies Ruby's seemingly idyllic family with two parents who are still madly in love with one another. Eugenio Derbez and Amy Forsyth make more of an impression as Ruby's music teacher and townie best friend, respectively.

The plot is pretty conventional, and you can probably figure out within the first twenty minutes or so how the movie is going to end. But the execution is really penetrating and carefully observed. I believed all of these characters, and cared about them. Ruby is a heroine that you want to root for, and who earns the audience's loyalty. You believe her world, and you believe in her challenges.
 

Robert Crawford

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I watched it today on AppleTV+ and liked it a lot.
To me, one of the best scenes in the movie is during the high school's choir night when the film director turned off the audio and you can see her father looking around the audience and noticing how other people with hearing are responding to his daughter's voice. At that point, he starts to realize his daughter's gift.
 

Bernard McNair

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I enjoyed CODA as much as the French original (which is rare for me). I strongly agree with Robert’s comment in the previous post, the lack of sound during the school concert is a breathtaking moment of cinema. I loved the cast, especially Emilia Jones who in my view is a talent to watch.
I highly recommend this film to anyone who can access it.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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To me, one of the best scenes in the movie is during the high school's choir night when the film director turned off the audio and you can see her father looking around the audience and noticing how other people with hearing are responding to his daughter's voice. At that point, he starts to realize his daughter's gift.
Another scene that stood out to me is the moment when the choirmaster asks Ruby what music means to her, and she can't articulate her feelings in English so she signs her answer instead. And even though he doesn't understand the literal meaning of what she's signed, he definitely understands the gist of what she's trying to express.
 

JoeStemme

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CODA (2021) - Ruby (Emilia Jones) is a high school senior living is the seaport town of Glouscester, just north of Boston. In addition to all the usual awkward teenager issues of her studies, boys and mean girls, Ruby has to get up at 3 am every day to help with her family fishing business. Oh, and her parents (Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur) and brother (Daniel Durant) are deaf (the entire movie is subtitled and close captioned).

Writer-Director Sian Heder (adapting a French film, La Famille Belier) centers her movie on Ruby as a way for the audience to understand the family's dynamics.Her script also uses the Massachusetts setting to give it it's own specific feel and atmosphere and not feel like a rote remake. Heder is also smart in never trying to artificially present the clan as a “normal family”, while always maintaining a sympathetic eye and ear towards them.

Ruby has never been “good at school”, but she shows some talent as a singer when she joins the school choir on whim. Eugenio Derbez plays her colorful music teacher (we first see him in an ascot) who encourages her talent. Derbez performance shows warmth and wit, and is able to escape caricature. Less successful is the humor which is often forced and too overly broadly played. Sure, it's, I suppose, comforting to know that deaf families can be just as wacky as any other brood, but, tonally, it doesn't quite blend with the pathos.

Jones gives a sweetly determined performance that carries the movie over it's bumps and occasionally too conventional plotting. It's a strong performance that lifts not only the movie, but the other performances as well. Jones stands out, but, it's never showy. A young actress to keep an eye on.

CODA, the winner of Sundance's top award (which lead to Apple paying $25M for its rights), occasionally falls into the trap of seeming to check off the usual Festival Award Winner attributes (why do all young persons seem to be involved in Music and the Arts?), but, fortunately, Jones and and the movie's uplift make it a worthwhile journey.
 

Pnochichi

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Very happy to see him nominated and I hope he wins. This was probably the best movie I saw from last years batch. Only tick, tick...boom gives it a run for my money. I loved just about everything about this one. My favorite last year was sound of metal as well. Both really took me into those worlds and I loved them.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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‘CODA’ to Be Re-Released in Theaters for Free Next Weekend


Starting next Friday and running through the following Sunday, Apple is offering free screenings of its Best Picture nominee CODA in select cities. Tickets are available here on a first come, first serve basis.

U.S. Cities:
  • Atlanta: Tinseltown 17 + XD
  • Austin: Tinseltown 20 + XD
  • Boston: Coolidge Corner
  • Chicago: Deer Park 16
  • Cleveland: Valley View 24 + XD
  • Dallas: Cinemark West Plano 20
  • Denver: Century Aurora +XD
  • Houston: Memorial City 16
  • Las Vegas: Las Vegas Suncoast 16 + XD
  • Los Angeles: Playa Vista 9 + XD
  • Miami: Paradise 24 + XD
  • New York City: Alamo Drafthouse Liberty
  • Orlando: Cinemark Orlando + XDPalm Springs: Rancho Mirage River 15 + XD
  • Philadelphia: University 6
  • Phoenix: Cinemark 16
  • Sacramento: Cinemark Roseville Galleria Mall and XD
  • San Francisco: San Francisco Centre 9 + XD
  • Seattle: Lincoln Square Cinema Bistro 22 with IMAX
  • Washington, DC: Fairfax Corner 14 + XD
UK City:
  • London: Barbican Cinema
I'm a little bummed that they didn't include Rochester, NY given its large Deaf population, but it's nice that all of the screenings are open captioned.
 

Wayne_j

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And of course nothing near me just like the Godfather re-release and the Beatles Rooftop Concert IMAX.
 

Tino

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CODA was the surprise winner of the marquee Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures awards at the 33rd annual Producers Guild Awards, which were handed out tonight at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.



 

DaveF

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Watched Coda Thursday night and glad I got to it! (It helped that my mom is visiting without my dad so we’re watching the family-friendly, non-superhero movies that she likes but never gets to see. :) )

Coda is a good movie. It follows the form and won’t surprise with unexpected twists. But it does it about perfectly. And “Kinsey” from Locke and Key is a revelation here. Recommended for everyone.
 

SamT

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I thought this was excellent. Two parts made it very special for me.

1- I was expecting that it would be a great idea to cut the sound at one moment, but it was still emotional when they did it.
2- The moment that the music professor played a false note by mistake or on purpose was also a great emotional moment on so many levels
 

EricSchulz

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Fantastic film. I really want to track down the original. I have never liked Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now."
Until this film. As someone stated, there aren't any surprises in the story, but the cast is excellent and it is definitely worth seeing.
 

Josh Dial

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Coda is a good movie. It follows the form and won’t surprise with unexpected twists. But it does it about perfectly. And “Kinsey” from Locke and Key is a revelation here. Recommended for everyone.
Total agreement, Dave.

This movie has zero surprises. You can see the plot coming from a mile away. And it's sappy.

But man, CODA does what it sets out to do so well.

Such a kind movie.

Emilia Jones is a star here.

I don't think CODA was the best film of the year. But it just might be the nicest movie of the year--and I mean that sincerely. I really liked it.
 

SamT

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I mean what movie should win the best picture? A movie that actually dramatizes, makes you feel, Movies are about dramatization after all. Or a movie that doesn't dramatize and says I showed you correctly the images and events that happened, if you didn't connect the dots and didn't understand it's your problem! :D
 
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