Friday, December 24, 2021

CODA - Movie Review

The Movie: CODA

The Director: Siân Heder

The Cast: Emilia Jones, Eugenio Derbez, Troy Kotsur, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Daniel Durant, Marlee Matlin

The Story: 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 by wanting to go to Berkeley and her fear of abandoning her parents.

The Review:
So you've been looking for a feel good movie that will lift your spirits and give you hope for the future well here I am to tell you that CODA is exactly that movie and you should watch it as soon as possible. I'm going to tell you right here and right now that this is one of my favorite movies of the year and will show up in multiple places on my 2021 recap that features all my favorite films and performances. There is so much to like about this movie, the first thing I ask myself when typing this out is where do I I start.

I guess I'll start by making sure we're all aware that this movie is a remake of a French language film called La Famille Bélier of which I really know nothing about so I have no basis for comparison. The basic idea of the movie is intact with the location moved to Massachusetts from a dairy farm in France. The family dynamic is the same and that's really where the heart of the story is as the relationships between each family member are explored in great detail. This is also a coming of age story that focuses on the daughter Ruby who realizes she may be able to turn her love of singing into a turn away from being the family interpreter.

I don't know if I've ever seen such an honest depiction or exploration of what living as a deaf family is actually like. Sure, we see random characters from time to time but not as a major focus and not done in a way where it is a factor in the story but not the sole reason for the story to exist. Director Siân Heder seems to have gone to great lengths to get the subtleties of these dynamics right, at least to my untrained eyes. Also, both parents and the son are played by deaf actors which also adds layers of depth and a component of authenticity that I think is essential for getting this movie right as well.

Speaking of that cast, we have to talk first and foremost about Emilia Jones who, being just under 20 years old, has been acting for a decade yet somehow has gone under my radar until blowing it up with this performance. From what I have read, Jones spent nine months learning American Sign Language, took singing lessons and other various trainings to help create a an authentic and believable character. I mentioned that the movie as a whole is one of my favorites of the year well most of that is due to the performance from this up and coming superstar.

When I think about it, everyone who plays a part in the Rossi family deserves recognition along with Jones because they are all just so good in the movie. Marlee Matlin of course is perfect as Jackie, the mom of the family and Daniel Durant brings a ton of emotion to his performance and I have to give a special nod to Troy Kotsur as Frank, the dad of the family who brings an abundance of humor, drama, and emotion to the character. I also have to mention the one and only Eugenio Derbez who is pretty fantastic as Ruby's choir teacher and he adds a lot of comedy to the story as well.

The Verdict:
CODA is a wonderful feel good movie that will easily find a home among my favorite movies of the year. Director Siân Heder, along with the help of an amazing cast, has created a movie that is highly engaging, endlessly entertaining, and it represents the deaf community in a very authentic way.

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