DIRECTOR: SIÂN HEDER
CAST: EMILIA JONES; TROY KOTSUR; FERDIA WALSH-PEELO; DANIEL DURANT, MARLEE MATLIN; EUGENIO DERBEZ
CERT:15; 111 MINS
RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 2021; APPLE TV +
REVIEW by SUSAN GRAY
Ruby Rossi is in her final year of high school, she is also the only hearing member of her deaf family, the Child Of Deaf Adults of the title. Emilia Jones physically inhabits her role with great skill, capturing the female adolescent physicality of veering between proud physical prowess - when cycling, swimming, and especially when helping on the family fishing boat - and also the round shouldered slouching of the school student who feels socially excluded.
CODA’s story arc is not a surprising one: high school oddball finds her voice in a choir, her talent is spotted by eccentric, but heart of gold music teacher Mr V, who hailing from Mexico City and understands what it is to be an outsider. At first her family do not understand, and want to keep Ruby close to them - she is their ears and voice. You probably don’t need me to tell you there will be an end of term concert, a mutually educative first love, and a race against time dash for Ruby to fulfil her talent.
But for all Sian Hede’s feature treading a well worn path, it does so with great heart and visually stunning sequences set on the waves and quayside of the Eastern Seaboard. West Wing actor and deaf activist Marlee Marlin, is incredibly expressive as Ruby’s mother Jackie, navigating her daughter’s independence and her own. The film also portrays Ruby’s family with great dignity and humour, making their disability part of the texture of their lives, but not its definition.