Sundance 2021 Review: CODA

Written by Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde


SYNOPSIS: As a CODA – Child of Deaf Adults – Ruby is the only hearing person in her deaf family. When the family’s fishing business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her love of music and her fear of abandoning her parents.

REVIEW: CODA (Child of Death Adults) is my first Siân Heder movie and I can say that I was pleasantly surprised. It has a similar charm to Little Miss Sunshine but is much less quirky. You may have heard that it sparked a bidding war at Sundance. So it’s possible that you’ll get to see this one from your own couch on Apple TV soon, if you didn’t get a chance to see it at Sundance.

CODA Behind the Scenes Siân Heder and Emilia Jones Photo: Mark Hill

This film showcases awareness around the deaf community, a topic that’s recently come into light from the award contending film Sound of Metal. But this time it tells the story of a high school senior–Ruby, an aspiring singer and the only hearing person in her deaf family. Throughout the movie we learn more about Ruby, her relationship with her family, and how she sometimes struggles to navigate the “hearing world” and the “deaf world.” Filled with heartwarming and funny moments of Ruby interpreting conversations for her family. It is also about letting go and learning to pave your own path.

It tugged at my Massachusetts heart strings in a very particular way, and features a star making performance for Emilia Jones. It was lovely seeing Marlee Martin on screen again, who plays Ruby’s mother Jackie. Ferdia Walsh-Peelo from Sing Street a personal favorite performer of mine, also turns in a strong supporting performance. Overall CODA is a lovely film about growing out from your family to pursue your dreams, but always carrying a part of them with you.

CODA is currently playing at the Sundance 2021 Film Festival

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