CODA (2021) - 9/10
It’s been a while since I sat down with a film. I feel out of practice. This though is a wonderful reintroduction. Ruby (Emilia Jones) is a young girl with a lot of hopes and responsibilities. She’s a passion for music, issues with cliquey classmates, a job working for the struggling family fishing firm, oh and she’s the only one in her family who can hear. CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) right from the get go is a rich tapestry of plot threads. It sounds like it could be heavy right and sure it does have some serious weight, but it’s also really funny. Frank (Troy Kotsur) and Jackie (Marlee Matlin), Ruby’s parents are a riot for a start. Ruby is frustrated by them, they mark her out as different with her peers. They are though, of course, her source or strength. Ruby has a power within her that she doesn’t realise and a voice and feeling for music that’s just itching to break out. Between the music and Ruby’s ability to speak up for her family, it’s brilliantly positive, life affirming and occasionally fist in the air sort of stuff. The supporting cast too are wonderful, particularly Eugenio Derbez as the flamboyant choir master, who thrusts Ruby reluctantly together with her crush and pushes her to chase her dreams. Great as they all are though, it’s Jones who carry this. She’s marvellous, her performance will have your crying tears of joy, as she deftly portrays teenage awkwardness with a depth and strength that’s infectious to everyone lucky enough to share the screen with her. This isn’t just Ruby’s story though, her development is everyone’s, but as things get better, they can always get worse, with Ruby torn between the things she loves and her families dependence on her. When Ruby’s mum tells her she’s brave though… well that just nails it. She knows her daughter. Knows that everything that comes her way, good, bad, wonderful or difficult, Ruby has it. She’s a fantastic character to watch and that’s what her parents are left with as Ruby begins to realise her dreams. They can’t hear her sing, they can only watch. I try not to spoil film when writing about them, but just as Sound of Metal leans on it’s audio choices to hammer home the perspectives of those on screen, so too does CODA, with no less devastating effect. Not devastating bad, just the sort of cinematic wallop that floors you, leaving you with a heart bursting sense of beauty in humanity. I can’t recall the last time I cried as much watching a film. What a stunningly beautiful story.