Director: Sian Heder
Date Created: 2021-08-13 00:00
Now, this movie was completely not even on my radar AT ALL. I didn’t even know that it existed. Even when it was presented to me, I was really only mildly interested in the story. But it was a free screening through GOFOBO so I was like “Why not?” Let’s check it out. It’s free and I don’t have Apple TV so this may be the only way I can watch it.”
Boy was I glad that I took a chance on this unexpected gem.
CODA is definitely one of my favorite films of 2021. Possibly one of my favorite films ever.
CODA (an acronym standing for "Child Of Deaf Adults") is a coming-of-age film about a teen named Ruby who is the only hearing member of her deaf family. It addresses her unique challenges as she explores her love for singing while trying to juggle it with her family's dependency on her to communicate with hearing individuals.
CODA Movie Review
I’m literally exploding trying to think of where to even begin with my admiration for this film. Uggghh, it’s so good!
There is something so viscerally beautiful about sign language. Like it speaks directly to the soul. It’s like dancing. It emotes.
One part of the movie that was incredibly stunning to me was when the music teacher, Mr. V, asked Ruby what singing feels like and she found it hard to explain in words so she started using sign language.
As someone who loves to sing and finds it very freeing and therapeutic, there was no better description than what she motions with her hands, her facial expressions, and her body. It was so spot on and not a single word was spoken. Even better, there were no subtitles to take away from the innate communication of her hands, face, and body. It was such a breathtaking moment for me because some of the best feelings are the hardest to explain with mere words.
Another sign language moment that actually brought me to tears was when Ruby was doing her audition for Berklee and her family was in the back of the auditorium. When she saw them, she started adding sign language to the lyrics and I just started leaking. It was so sublime and beautiful. Her melody, her voice, her sign language, and the love she has for her family – it was all so overwhelmingly, breathtakingly beautiful.
It was so lovely to see the journey that Ruby had with Mr. V. Having a good voice is not enough. So much comes with singing. Breathing, confidence, support, soul. Usually, we just see singers who are already amazing. They come out of the womb singing Beyonce’s Love on Top, hitting every key change flawlessly, but no. Rather, I really enjoyed seeing her growth, seeing her raw talent being refined and relating with the messy process of growing in your vocal confidence and ability.
When you think about being the only hearing member of a deaf family, you may think it’s super isolating, restrictive, and quiet but the last thing I would’ve expected from this situation was hilarious!
Honestly, think about it, she had to translate her parent’s doctor’s appointments and her parents hilariously have NO filter!
Her family never realized how loud their farts were, or how noisy the dishes were. Even worse, how loud their sex noises are. When I tell you I was full-on belly laughing at that scene! Sooooo hilarious!!! What a mortifying situation to have your parents loudly doing it in the next room while you have guests over! It reminded me of this comedy sketch I saw on YouTube.
Who would’ve thunk, deaf people unknowingly have loud sex. Idk why I thought deaf people would be quiet. People make other noises besides talking.
Speaking of unique challenges, I have encountered very few deaf people in my life so I’m pretty ignorant of what it’s like to be deaf and what the deaf community is like.
It was eye-opening to realize and see the world through new eyes.
The isolation that comes with being deaf, feeling left out, very often misunderstood, lacking closer connection to others because of the inability to communicate, and fewer opportunities for employment. Things like that. It made me a lot more cognizant of that.
But it also made me cognizant of the fact that they’re just people. They desire the same things everyone else desires: acceptance, connection, love, and happiness. You know, the only difference is that they can’t hear anything so they have to navigate the world a little differently.
One part of the movie that struck me was when the brother was talking to the sister about how he wished his parents could value his input and help more. The sister refutes that he can’t hear so that limits him but then he refutes back that there should be more standards in place to help accommodate them in the community. And that makes sense. If you see a need in the community, more should be done to make sure that everyone has the access and ability to participate in the community. It shouldn’t be completely on the deaf people to try to fit into the hearing community because they simply can’t hear.
Coming of Age Tropes That Actually Worked in CODA
Ruby doing a duet with the boy she liked, Miles, the romance building slowly and realistically – I found it was a lovely addition that didn’t overshadow or consume the main character. This was like a side dish to her discovering herself and her place within the world and her family. This romance was like a side of creamy mashed potatoes. A lovely compliment to the story.
The Exuberant Choir Teacher
I loved Mr. V. He was out there but he still felt real and he was hilarious. His character was a gem, not annoying, not overdone. He was the perfect balance of dramatic, serious, tough, and caring.
The Choir Audition Scene
Classic stuff in Pitch Perfect, High School talent shows, and any movie that’s about singing but again it was very realistic. It wasn’t like everyone was ridiculously horrible and ridiculously amazing, they were mostly pleasantly average.
They played such a minimal role in this movie. Again not overdone but a common role in high school movies.
The Characters in CODA
Every single character in CODA was flipping phenomenal.
Emilia Clark, the actress who played Ruby, — that voice!!! As BTS would say, smooth like butter. Absolutely beautiful and down to earth. She didn’t do too much. She just breathed gorgeous melodies. Acting — incredible. Everything — perfection.
The father (Troy Kotsur) was my next favorite character. Absolutely HILARIOUS!! He was such a hoot!
The mom (Marlee Matlin) was not perfect like every mom in the world and her journey towards understanding her daughter a little better was beautiful and relatable to see.
The brother (Daniel Durant) stayed mad for real but it made sense. He was tired of being seen as useless compared to his sister.
When Mr. Bernarrrrdo Villalobos, played by Eugenio Derbez, said don’t embarrass yourself by saying his name if you can’t roll your R’s, I felt personally attacked. But I loved it. Mr. V was just INCREDIBLE.
I’m so glad that deaf people played the deaf characters. It definitely adds a level of authenticity to the film because the characters can actually embrace and relate to the deaf experience. Also, it gives deaf actors the employment, voice, and recognition they deserve since there are not a whole lot of deaf characters on the big screens.
I have a rule – if a movie makes me cry, it is automatically considered for a 10/10 rating. If a movie surpasses all the superficiality of paid actors and doctored sets and actually hits the soul, then that’s what this is all about for me. Job very well done.
On top of CODA actually piercing my soul, it consistently stayed within the sweet spot of classic coming-of-age elements while incorporating a unique POV and hilarious circumstances that are novel to the average person. Nothing was overdramatized, nothing was glaringly fake, overdrawn, or overdone. Just right in the sweet spot the whole time.
Phenomenal direction, phenomenal acting, and phenomenal screenplay. Just a plain phenomenal film. I’m so glad I crossed paths with this story and it will forever be a movie that I recommend to others and reminisce on.
What did you think of this film? Let me know in the comments below!
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Peace, love, and lots of popcorn,