Sundance 2021: “Coda”

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

When we become a parent, we always want our child to stay with us for the rest of our life. A thought that he or she can leave us one day is something that hardly crosses our mind. There are families that depend on their children too, one way or another. But should we stop a child from pursuing their dream, say, to become a doctor, singer, actor or writer? No matter how deep the question is, Siân Heder dives into the most difficult concept, walks through it, and provides the most interesting answer yet.

“Coda” follows Ruby (talented Emilia Jones), who is the only one in her family who can hear. Her parents (Marlee Martin and Troy Kotsur) and brother (Daniel Durant) are all deaf. At her young age, just seventeen, she helps her parents while studying in school. She also has a beautiful voice, which is noticed by a choirmaster (Eugenio Derbez). As she gets a chance to go to college, she ends up in a very tough situation; thinking whether to continue supporting her family, pretty much being the only interpreter for them. They always need a hearing individual while they are on a boat, fishing, meaning Ruby must abandon her dream to have a life of her own, forever but not the one that’s being dictated by circumstances.

First of all, the film is filled with powerful performances from Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Marlee Martin, Daniel Durant and Eugenio Derbez. Every single scene with them is a treat you have been waiting for all day. As for the storyline, it has everything you need to feel engaged; it’s funny, wicked sometimes, has a good sense of humor and an education storyline that will move and stun you equally at the same time.

For instance, Ruby is exceptionally talented. She has a naturally beautiful voice that neither her parents nor her brother can appreciate due to their disability. Even though they feel like they need Ruby in their lives all the time, her mom, especially, is the one that is a bit reluctant when it comes to her daughter’s choice. Her father, on the other hand, is easygoing. If his wife says yes, he would probably agree. But it’s up to Ruby to find a way to create her future and how she must try to convey it to her parents.

Naturalistic and richly written characters shine throughout. Filled with sign language and an uplifting story, “Coda” shows the true meaning of family, what it stands for, and knowing the right moment when a sacrifice should be made. It indeed has a heart and soul which this film breathes in and out and you will hear it, trust me on that, so clearly throughout. In short, just get ready for the journey of your life brought by, perhaps, Sundance’s most brilliantly shot narrative film you will talk about a lot even after the screen fades to black.

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