This film was previously reviewed in January 2021 as part of our Sundance Film Festival coverage.

From writer-director Siân Heder comes CODA, an impactful story that focuses on 17-year-old Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones), the only hearing family member amongst her culturally Deaf parents, Jackie (Marlee Matlin) and Leo (Daniel Durant), and older brother, Frank (Troy Kotsur). Ruby is torn between pursuing her love of music and the obligation she has to be her family’s connection to the hearing community. This is a story about love, family, and dreams, but featuring a dynamic not represented enough in film. 

Something that immediately stands out about CODA is how close Ruby and her family are, with their effortlessly funny, raunchy sense of humour and warmth towards one another feeling like a breath of fresh air to witness on-screen. This connection, brought to life by the wonderful cast, is what draws you in.

However, there is a barrier between Ruby’s passion for singing and her family members who cannot hear her sing, which culminates in a moment where the sound completely cuts out, allowing the audience to observe in silence. It’s one of the film’s most powerful moments, experiencing life as Ruby’s family does for just a short while, and allows hearing viewers to realise a sense that they take for granted every day. Throughout the entirety of CODA, we see the lengths Ruby’s family goes through to run a business, highlighting the differences and frustrations that Deaf people must face in order to integrate into a community that has made no effort to be accessible. 

A young girl who must make a choice between her dreams and her family is a story we’ve all seen, but not from this perspective. CODA is beautiful, but it’s just one story amongst so many others that have yet to be told, underlining an important message about inclusivity in films.



CAST: Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant, Eugenio Derbez, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo

DIRECTOR: Siân Heder

WRITER: Siân Heder

SYNOPSIS: Ruby, a hearing teen in a culturally Deaf family is torn between pursuing her love of music and her family’s reliance on her to be their connection to the outside world.