“CODA!” If you haven’t yet watched ApplePlus ‘s “CODA” is a must see film especially for Academy voters.
“CODA,” skillfully executed by writer-director Sian Heder, is one of the best films of the year. It’s simply exquisite, a powerhouse of a movie. No matter whom you speak to in Hollywood; whatever guild, Academy Member, Critics Choice or whomever, everyone loves it. Because it’s that good, overflowing with feisty quirky charm and bursting with family warmth and love.
British actress Emilia Jones (casting director powerhouse Deborah Aquila went over the pond to find her) plays high school senior Ruby, the hearing child of deaf adults, played perfectly by Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur. Conflicted Ruby is trying to find her voice, literally and figuratively in a deaf household, which includes her brother, wonderfully played by Daniel Durant.
The family run a small fishing business in the working town community of Gloucester, Mass. Ruby finds herself as the only translator and is torn between being their only conduit to the hearing world and her immense love for them vs. her own independence with includes her love of singing. And wow, can she sing! Eugenio Derbez is just terrific as her music teacher who never loses faith in mega talented Ruby and is her cheerleader for a potential music scholarship in Boston. That proves difficult for the loyal Ruby as she is torn between two worlds.
It’s a coming-of-age story for Ruby, but also the most accurate deaf portrayal of a family I’ve ever seen, because on a personal note, I grew up with a deaf aunt and uncle. The dynamics are all true to life, and it’s not always easy or comfortable. Heder, to her credit, doesn’t shy away from the tough spots.
(Kudos to the lovely song in the film “Beyond The Shore” written by Nicholai Baxter, Matt Dahan, Marius de Vries and Sian Heder. The song, sung beautifully by Jones, just deservedly made the Oscar shortlist and is on its way to a nomination. That will be only one of the many nominations this unique, brilliant film will garner.)
Heder based “CODA”on the 2014 French film, “La Famille Belier.” Much of the dialogue is delivered in American Sign Language, subtitled with such ease that you don’t even realize it’s happening. Hold on to your heart, because the irresistible “CODA” will steal it. Try not to cry poignant happy tears, I dare you!