REVIEW: ‘Coda’ hits all the right notes

REVIEW: ‘Coda’ hits all the right notes
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Updated 18 August 2021

REVIEW: ‘Coda’ hits all the right notes

REVIEW: ‘Coda’ hits all the right notes

LONDON: “Coda” is a remake of 2014 French movie “La Famille Bélier,” but there is no sense of going over old ground in this truly lovely comedy-drama, streaming now on Apple TV+.

Ruby Rossi is a teenager who lives in Massachusetts with her family. She works on their fishing trawler with her father and brother, drags herself to school (dodging the mockery of the popular girls) and moons over a boy she likes from afar. She loves to sing, but fears drawing too much attention to herself, so shuns the spotlight until an impulsive decision to join the choir brings her to the attention of flamboyant and charismatic teacher Bernardo Villalobos.

“Coda” is a remake of 2014 French movie “La Famille Bélier.” Supplied

So far, so cinematically predictable. But Ruby is also what is known as a CODA — a child of deaf adults — and thus must act as the glue that holds her family’s professional and personal lives together, connecting them with the outside, hearing world.

This significant story beat adds a whole new dimension to the film and is one that director Sian Heder handles with sensitivity and aplomb. For while Ruby’s family are often regarded as something of an oddity by their neighbors and coworkers, the movie avoids doing the same.

“Coda” stars deaf actors Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin and Daniel Durant as Ruby’s father, mother and brother. All three are excellent, but even they are eclipsed by English actor Emilia Jones as Ruby. Considering her family don’t speak, Ruby’s life can be deafening. She is surrounded by noise, yet is the only one able to hear it, and Jones portrays this unique situation with sensitivity and grace that is staggering in its complexity.

“Coda” is a much-needed cinematic hug. It’s a film that has engaging performances from a talented cast, but more than that, it boasts a genuinely heartwarming story about people who care about each other so much that they struggle to notice when family obligation tips over into stifling overreliance. One not to be missed.