In Theaters

CODA - Movie Review


Three words: grab the tissues.

Wearing its massive heart on its sleeve, CODA takes the spotlight as an unabashedly sweet film loaded with moments and performances that are sure to leave audiences feeling warm while also crying buckets of bittersweet tears. Sian Heder’s new Sundance-award-sweeping film takes the familiar coming-of-age story and applies it to a unique and underrepresented community, making it a stand-out addition to the genre.

"a story that is sure to resonate with much of its audience"


As she is the only hearing person in her family - a CODA: Child of Deaf Adults - high school senior, Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones), has spent her life assisting her family in their fishing business and interpreting for them whenever needed. As far as she is concerned, that is how she will spend the rest of her life. But while in school one day, she chooses to join choir, where she quickly learns through the relentless encouragement of Mr. V (Eugenio Derbez) that she possesses a beautiful, natural singing ability that could land her into a renowned performing arts college, if she is willing to put in the work. 

By participating in both after-school work with Mr. V to prepare for her audition and the mandatory rehearsals with duet-partner and love-interest, Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), Ruby realizes her passion lies in music, but she cannot escape the pull of guilt she feels from her family. When her passion and her familial obligations start colliding, Ruby struggles with how to follow her dream without hurting her family and even herself.

While most coming-of-age stories center around teenagers taking steps to reach some type of maturity through the responsibilities of being an adult, this film offers a fresh take as its protagonist seems to be doing the exact opposite. Ruby is already grown up, and has been for a long time. So much so that her family is very aware of it…but not always happy about it. Being their invaluable interpreter for many years, she has been bombarded with responsibility her whole life and has constantly defended her family when the hearing world inevitably shows its cruelness to the culturally deaf outcasts. She has always been their voices, but she has never actually had her own. CODA

Though this film has put Ruby’s musical dreams at the forefront, the most impactful element of the story is the complicated relationship that Ruby shares with her family, played by Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant, and Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin. Scenes with her family serve as points of worry, hilarious embarrassment, frustration, but they eventually evolve into moments of cathartic tenderness that are sure to cue the waterworks. Honestly, the entire last act of the film will leave you sobbing as Ruby finds unique ways in which she can connect her family to her singing. Though the Rossi family may never fully be able to comprehend Ruby’s dream, in their own way they do…which is what makes this film special in its own right.

The predictability of the film is nothing of concern because it could not have worked any other way. At the end of the day, it is a story that is sure to resonate with much of its audience. Though we are only a little over halfway through 2021…CODA is indisputably the feel-good film of the year.

CODA is now playing in select theaters and on AppleTV+.

4/5 stars

Film Details


MPAA Rating: PG-13 for strong sexual content and language, and drug use.
111 mins
: Sian Heder
Sian Heder
Emilia Jones; Marlee Matlin; Troy Kotsur
: Drama
An Apple Original Film.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You know why God made farts smell? So deaf people could enjoy them too."
Theatrical Distributor:
Apple TV
Official Site:
Release Date:
August 13, 2021
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Ruby (Emilia Jones) is the sole hearing member of a deaf family—a CODA, child of deaf adults. Her life revolves around acting as interpreter for her parents (Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur) and working on the family's struggling fishing boat every day before school with her father and older brother (Daniel Durant). But when Ruby joins her high school’s choir club, she discovers a gift for singing and soon finds herself drawn to her duet partner Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). Encouraged by her enthusiastic, tough-love choirmaster (Eugenio Derbez) to apply to a prestigious music school, Ruby finds herself torn between the obligations she feels to her family and the pursuit of her own dreams.




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