CODA (2021) Review

Emilia Jones shines in this quiet, joyous coming-of-age drama

Rony Patra -

CODA (2021) Review
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What is the story about?

Seventeen year-old girl Ruby Rossi is a CODA--the only hearing member of her deaf family who can talk. Due to her position, she is the link between her family and the world. However, when her music teacher at school encourages her to apply for a music scholarship in college, Ruby must decide whether she wants to sing or stay with her family forever.


What do you do when you're forced by circumstances to be an unofficial parent to your family, even though you're not even an adult? This is a huge burden to carry for any seventeen year-old girl, and it is true for Ruby as well. Her situation is unique, and you can understand why her family would want to keep her closer to them. It is this angle that makes watching CODA such a wholesome experience. Director Sian Heder remakes the 2014 French film La Famille Belier, but the way she sets up the story in a close-knit fishing community in Massachusetts is beautiful. But above all, she makes Ruby and her family seem like any other happy family, thanks to her extensive use of American Sing Language (ASL) in the film. Indians watching this might get reminded of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Khamoshi, but the story here is much more complex and layered than Bhansali's film, focussing on how parents get selfish after a point, or how life often robs teenagers of their childhood for no fault of their own. Ruby's singing sequences are superbly choreographed, and the final sequence will move you to tears. 


Emilia Jones excels in a breakout role as Ruby, conveying the volatility and innocence of a girl who is torn between being an official teenager and an unofficial adult. Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin and Daniel Durant shine as Frank (Ruby's father), Jackie (Ruby's mother) and Leo (Ruby's brother). Eugenio Derbez leaves an impression as Bernardo Villalobos, Ruby's music teacher.

Music & Other Departments

Paula Huidobro's cinematography is top-notch. Marius de Vries provides an easy background score.


The sequences that require Ruby to sing full-throated, and the final sequence, will move you.


The predictability of the story may turn off a few people.

Did I enjoy it?


Do I recommend it?

Yes, if you're interested in family dramas that will leave you teary-eyed.

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