It occurred to me that the framework of the story was fairly conventional, but that it worked exceedingly well. Part of it is the specificity of these particular characters. Another is the strong performances by the actors. But a big chunk of it is that we really hadn’t seen this narrative shown.
Ruby (Emilia Jones) is the only hearing member of a deaf family. CODA means child of deaf adults. She’s trying to fit in at school, though she’s taken some grief because of the idiosyncrasies of her family. In particular, her father Frank (SAG award winner Troy Kotsur) “speaks” his mind, as it were. Among other things, he adores his wife Jackie (Marlee Matlin).
Frank, and Ruby’s older brother Leo (Daniel Durant), work on the family’s struggling fishing boat, and Ruby helps out before school. But when she joins her high school choir, she finds her time conflicted. This is especially the case as her exacting choirmaster Bernardo Villalobos (Eugenio Derbez) is trying to mentor her so that she can ao apply to a prestigious music school. And she likes hanging out with her duet partner Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo).
But how can she even about going when her family needs her? I “believed” this collective. The parents who want to hold onto their daughter but the brother may have a different need in the family dynamic. Miles doesn’t always do the right thing.
Not unlike the immigrant story
My wife noted that it is often the case that some of her English as a New Language students serve as interpreters for their immigrant parents. It turns the usual family dynamics on its head. So too with the story in CODA.
And one interesting element of the film is the David v. Goliath economic story, which all of the fishermen were subject to.
At the end of the credits were the names of the actors voicing the dubbed versions of the film into French, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Castilian, Chinese (I think), and some Cyrillic language.
The reviews were largely positive (95% by the critics, 93% by the audiences).