CODA is an acronym for a ‘Child of Deaf Adult‘. That means an individual who was raised by one or two parents/guardians who were deaf. So this coming-of-age film is about Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones) whose ambition is to become a singer. But the problem is the lifetime dependency of her deaf family who is reluctant to continue living their life on their own, without her support.
When I understood the plot, I realized I have watched an old film with a similar plot. It was none other than Sanjay Leela Bhansali‘s Khamoshi: The Musical. But Khamoshi’s story was also similar to a German film Jenseits der Stille that was actually released a few months after Khamoshi. So, was Khamoshi an original story? CODA itself is an official remake of French film La Famille Bélier.
So, for me, the story is ordinary. But CODA is all about the execution of the story that is blessed with an impressive screenplay and extraordinary performances by many major characters, especially Rubi’s father Frank played by Troy Kotsur. There are several scenes where the family’s deafness and sign language performance are done so well. And there are scenes that build a lot of attention for the audience like Ruby’s music teacher Mr. V (Eugenio Derbez) working hard on Ruby’s vocal cords, especially that pressing on little-dog-big-dog-exercise.
The beauty of CODA also is that the film grows on its audience. Note when the parents struggle to understand their daughter’s performance and observe the clapping and behavior of other listeners, or when Frank feels her neck when she sings, or when Ruby sings with sign language in the hall. Yes, the film is pretty slow but I think this subject in a coming-of-age film needed to be slow-paced.
CODA needs a quick visit to enjoy some astonishingly brilliant performances as deaf characters. A fabulous tone for coming-of-age needs a reminder to the audience that there are CODAs who face difficulties and get bullied, and they need help.