26 September 2023


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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Writer/director: Siân Heder, Vendôme Pictures and Pathé.

The 2022 Best Picture award-winner CODA made history on a number of fronts at the 94th Academy Awards last week. It won all three awards it was nominated for: along with Best Adapted Screenplay (by Siân Heder) and Best Supporting Actor for Troy Kotsur.

The title for this film comes from the acronym CODA (Child of Deaf Adult), with reference to the plot, which follows a young girl’s experience as the only hearing member of a deaf family. It’s her role as 17-year-old Ruby Rossi, a high schooler CODA, that’s heart-appealing. She’s up at 3am every day to help her father and older brother on the family’s struggling fishing boat.

She is multi-talented: not only is she the interpreter, advocate, fisherwoman and ambassador of communication, she’s also a student working hard at balancing the challenges of being a teenager in school, on the cusp of discovering love, wanting to be a singer and longing for a life independent of her family.

Mother Jackie is played by Academy Award-winning Marlee Matlin (who was the first deaf actor to win an Oscar for Children of a Lesser God in 1986); Kotsur is her husband Frank and Daniel Durant plays their son Leo.

After Ruby joins her high school choir, she is drawn to both her duet partner and her latent passion for singing. The choir director Bernardo ‘Mr. V’ Villalobos (Eugenio Derbez) encourages her after discovering she has a beautiful singing voice. He pairs Ruby with Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) and they sing an emotive duet You’re All I Need To Get By. However, it’s when Ruby sings Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell at an audition that we are mesmerised. With her parents and brother in the audience, she starts to sign the words in the second set of lyrics knowing they are unable to hear the song. She knows they are showing their support although they cannot hear. The emotion is palpable!

Set in Gloucester, Massachusetts, this English-language remake of the 2014 French-Belgian film La Famille Bélier made Oscar history for Apple TV when it became the first movie distributed by a streaming service to win Best Picture.

For anyone who is fighting to tell a story, this is the stuff dreams are made of. For the filmmakers, it has been an amazing journey, especially for Siân Heder. No doubt, “this is a beautiful moment.”

  • CODA is streaming on Apple TV

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