CODA (child of deaf adult), directed by Sian Heder, is a remake of the 2014 French film La Famille Belier. CODA tells the story of teenager Ruby and her deaf family as she comes towards the end of her high school education. Ruby works for the family fishing business, goes to school, tries to find time for singing and squeezes in some high school romance. All whilst acting as an interpreter for her family’s interactions with people who hear. Basically, she has a lot on her plate.
The performances of all the actors are excellent, with the three deaf characters played by deaf actors. Emilia Jones learned sign language for the role of Ruby and creates a believable dynamic with her deaf parents and brother. Ruby’s father is played by Troy Kotsur, who won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the role. He is just the second deaf actor to win an acting Oscar. The other is Marlee Matlin (go watch The West Wing!) who plays Ruby’s mother. Daniel Durant rounds out the family as Ruby’s brother. There’s a lot of love in the family but also plenty of tension and frustration as Ruby begins to look to her future.
Ruby joins the school choir and increasingly looks to music as an escape as the family business struggles and tensions rise. There is a showy turn from Eugenio Derbez as the flamboyant music teacher who pushes her toward studying music at college.
CODA earns its best-adapted screenplay Oscar with a script that makes the movie seem so natural and realistic. It’s a movie with plenty of humour and plenty of heart.
CODA made history at the Oscars, becoming the first movie produced by a streaming service (Apple) to win Best Picture. It won all three awards that it was nominated for and those three nominations are the lowest for a Best Picture winner since 1932.
The movie may be a bit predictable at times, and there’ll be no prizes for guessing how things work out but it’s done so well it doesn’t matter. A movie that will make you laugh and tug at your heartstrings, it’s definitely worth an Apple TV+ subscription!
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