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With a song in its heart, "CODA" is a family tale of deaf fishers that really reels you in


Starring Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin, Eugenio Derbez, Daniel Durant, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Amy Forsyth, Kevin Chapman. Written and directed by Siân Heder. Streams on Apple+ starting on Aug. 13. 111 minutes. PG-13 (U.S.)


Peter Howell

Movie Critic

There are no surprises but there are strong hooks in Siân Heder’s sweetly musical Sundance 2021 opener, which swept the four main prizes in the fest’s U.S. Dramatic Competition category.

It’s a sturdy coming-of-age dramedy of choosing between devotion and ambition, but with a twist.

New England teen Ruby (Emilia Jones, a dazzler) is the sole hearing member of her fishing family. They need her aboard their vessel to legally ply their trade.

Not so fast, dearest kin: Ruby wants to take her singing muse to college, a plan that conspires against household unity. She enrols in her high school's choir club, and finds yet another distraction, in the person of her duet partner Miles (Eugenio Derbez).

The title "CODA" does double duty in this postcard-pretty film. It's an acronym for "Child of Deaf Adults" and also a musical term meaning a summary final statement — but will Ruby say farewell to her family or her dreams?

The crackerjack cast includes Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur and Daniel Durant as Ruby’s deaf kin who humorously know how to raise a din. Actor turned writer/director Heder ("Tallulah") nets a reel winner with her second feature. 🌗

(This review originally ran in the Toronto Star.)



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