CODA – A Review by Cynthia Flores

CODA – A Review by Cynthia Flores

A CODA (child of deaf adults) is what they call children born to a deaf parent (or both parents). Although hearing, these children are members of the deaf community from birth. Their first language is often American Sign Language (ASL). This new film from the brilliant writer/director Sian Heder looks at the raw emotion and relatable dysfunction of being needed in a loving, close-knit family unit. Add to the mix the twist of being a gifted singer as well.  

The film CODA is the story of a hard-working Italian fishing family named Rossi who lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The film is centered around Ruby (Emilia Jones), the seventeen-year-old daughter of Jacki (Marlee Matlin) and Frank (Troy Kotsur). Her older brother Leo (Daniel Durant) loves teasing her as they work the family boat and sell their catches. Everyone in their immediate family is deaf except Ruby. She is their CODA and is often stuck between her family obligations and her own journey of self-discovery. This is her senior year in high school, and she decides to join the high school choir club because she loves singing. It’s actually her secret passion, something she has not shared with her deaf family. She finds out she’s really good at it and soon finds herself falling for her duet partner Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). With the help and tutoring of her eccentric choirmaster, Mr. Villalobos (Eugenio Derbez), Ruby actually has a shot at an audition and getting into the prestigious Berkeley School of Music. 

All this happens while the family is struggling with the fishing boat business. Ruby is right alongside them, working before school starts with her father and brother. At night and on the weekends, she studies with Mr. Villalobos to get ready for her audition. Ruby is burning the candle at both ends. All the while, Ruby is torn between what her family needs and what she is dreaming of.  

CODA is a tender and funny film that gives us a glimpse into a community not often represented in film. Not only are you cheering Ruby on, but you are also touched by her family. They are trying to understand a part of her they have never experienced before, her singing.

I give CODA a 4-star rating. It’s a tender film worth seeing in theaters or making it onto your “watch next” lists. 


Directed by: Sian Heder

Written by: Sian Heder

Rated: PG-13

Selig Rating: 4 Stars

Running Time: 1h 51min


Simultaneous Release: In theaters and Apple TV + August 13th

Starring: Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant, Eugenio Derbez


The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.

4 Stars – Good movie

3 Stars – OK movie

2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.

1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.

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