Combustible Celluloid
With: Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant, Marlee Matlin, Eugenio Derbez, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Amy Forsyth, Kevin Chapman
Written by: Sian Heder, based on a screenplay by Victoria Bedos, Stanislas Carré de Malberg, Éric Lartigau, Thomas Bidegain
Directed by: Sian Heder
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for strong sexual content and language, and drug use
Running Time: 111
Date: 08/13/2021

CODA (2021)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Hear My Song

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Writer/director Sian Heder (Tallulah) employs a comfy, familiar old "young adult" structure for her second feature film CODA — the story of a teen working up the courage to leave the family nest — but the stuff she fills it with is disarmingly fresh and touching. Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones) is a teen Child of Deaf Adults, and the only hearing member of her family. She works on a fishing boat with her father, Frank (Troy Kotsur), and older brother, Leo (Daniel Durant), and operates as the translator for the whole family. (There's a hysterical scene at a doctor's office.) When Ruby joins the school choir and her teacher Bernardo Villalobos (Eugenio Derbez) encourages her to pursue singing full-time, she has a tough choice, especially when the family fishing biz runs into trouble. And, of course, there's a boy (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), and a blooming romance. The family, which includes the one and only Marlee Matlin as mom Jackie, is lovable and messy, living in a huge, cluttered house, and totally relaxed and open around each other, with all their foibles and flaws hanging out. Heder was wise enough to cast actual deaf actors in the three roles, and the beautiful use of American Sign Language throughout will make you want to learn it.

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