CODA Parent Guide
This powerfully moving story of individual aspirations and family needs is beautifully made but contains too much negative content for some viewers.
Parent Movie Review
As the only hearing member of her family, Ruby (Emilia Jones) is responsible for interpreting for her deaf parents and brother (Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant) as well as helping to run the family fishing business. After signing up for high school choir, Ruby discovers her passion for singing, a passion her family will never be able to hear, and one which might take her away from the people who need her most.
CODA premiered at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, where it picked up multiple awards and bagged the current record for biggest Sundance acquisition ever, at $25 million from Apple. Is Apple gunning for an Oscar in an attempt to compete with streaming heavyweights such as Netflix and Hulu? After seeing this movie, there’s no doubt in my mind that Apple wants an Oscar and I really think they have a chance here.
The basic premise of CODA is nothing new: a coming-of-age story centering around a talented small-town girl torn between her dreams and her family. We’ve all seen it a million times. However, writer and director Sian Heder manages to breathe new life into an old story, adding new layers and a refreshing amount of authenticity. Ruby’s parents don’t disapprove of her musical aspirations because they think it’s frivolous; they rely on Ruby to be their ASL interpreter everywhere, including at the doctor’s office, much to her embarrassment. Ruby’s dad, Frank, is a fisherman, but he is not allowed to operate a boat without a hearing person on board, so he needs Ruby with him to provide for the family. This is a much more complicated scenario that what most screenwriters would delve into, which makes Ruby’s conflict and choices that much more compelling. On top of that, we get discussions around how deaf people are perceived as stupid or helpless, and even how they can be taken advantage of. Ruby’s brother, Leo, wants Ruby to go off to college because he hates having to be dependent on his little sister and believes that he can function in the world without an interpreter always by his side. All these themes weave together into a beautiful story about disability, family, responsibility, and growing up.
On top of the excellent screen play and story, the acting is phenomenal. The deaf characters are played by deaf actors, which I think is important and lends authenticity to the roles. All of the cast is fantastic, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some acting nominations, both lead and supporting, come awards season. Supporting the performances is the score, composed by Marius De Vries, which is incredibly minimal, but brilliantly so. In scenes where characters are conversing in signs, there is no score, or very little. The silence that permeates much of the film enhances the emotional beats and brings the viewer in some ways into the world of the hearing impaired. Perhaps the most powerful moment of the film is when Ruby is performing in a choir concert and all sound just stops, so we can experience her performance the way her family does. It is heart wrenching, and I will admit I shed a few tears.
Now that I’ve gushed about this beautiful piece of art, I need to add some caveats. This is not a children’s film, both because of the subtitles and the negative content. There’s some explicit sexual content, though no nudity, as well as a lot of profanity, so more sensitive viewers might want to skip this one. If you enjoy Oscar-type movies and aren’t sensitive to those content concerns, I highly recommend this film, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about it come awards season.Directed by Sian Heder. Starring Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant. Running time: 111 minutes. Theatrical release August 13, 2021. Updated February 24, 2022
Watch the trailer for CODA
Rating & Content Info
Why is CODA rated PG-13? CODA is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for strong sexual content and language, and drug use
Violence: Some men get into a bar fight, where they punch each other multiple times. No injuries or blood are shown.
Sexual Content: There are multiple sexual innuendos throughout the film. There is a discussion about genitals and sex in a medical setting. An adult couple make out. A married couple are shown having sex. There is no nudity, but the movements and sounds are obvious. This scene is meant to be humorous. Two teens kiss. Some sexual hand gestures are used, though some of them are actual signs used in ASL.
Profanity: Mild and moderate expletives are used liberally, as well as uses of terms of deity. There is one sexual expletive and one sexual hand gesture.
Alcohol / Drug Use: There are some jokes about getting high. Adults drink wine with dinner. Some scenes take place in a bar where adults are seen drinking. An adult is shown smoking marijuana in a state where it can be legally used recreationally
Page last updated February 24, 2022
CODA Parents' Guide
How are the Rossi family perceived by the surrounding community? How does this translate to how people with disabilities are perceived in real life?
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