CODA (2021)


CODA ( child of deaf adults ), as the title suggests is the story of Ruby Rossi, the only hearing member of her family; her parents Frank and Jackie and older brother Leo are all culturally Deaf.


Language : English, Sign Language.

Director : Sian Heder.

Writers : Sian Heder (Screenplay)

Cast : Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin, Daniel Durant,  John Fiore, Amy Forsyth.

Genre : Comedy | Drama | Coming of Age | Music

Imdb: CODA (2021)

Streaming on AppleTV.

Frank Rossi: “You know why God made farts smell? So deaf people could enjoy them too.”

CODA (Child Of Deaf Adults ), as the title suggests is the story of Ruby Rossi, the only hearing member of her family; her parents Frank and Jackie and older brother Leo are all culturally Deaf. She assists with the family fishing business and plans to join it full-time after finishing high school. The plot is set in In Gloucester, Massachusetts. CODA reminded me of a few previous Oscar nominated movies like Eighth Grade and Edge of Seventeen, and even Peanut Butter Falcon to a slight extent strangely. 

Coming of Age films is one of my favourite genres, because I personally feel 80% of who you become is influenced by your childhood, and your adolescence. I thoroughly enjoy and cherish coming of films, like Boyhood (2014), The Spectacular Now(2013), Perks of being a Wallflower (2012), Dead Poets Society (1989), Almost Famous (2000), Mud (2012), The Way Way Back (2013), Little Women (2019), Good Will Hunting (1997), A Bronx Tale (1993) and so much more, because when you watch these films, you feel really young again, and get another chance to grow up, make mistakes and learn from them.

CODA is all about Ruby navigating the senior year of her high school, also while being an interpreter for her family whenever she is not in class. She has an unpolished skill in singing and interestingly finds this out. She now has a conflict when she has to choose between staying in her comfort zone or going after her dreams to an unchartered territory, which is mildly challenging for her but very scary for parents because they see the world very differently compared to how CODA Ruby sees. Like every adolescent, Ruby is growing up, has a lot of hormones kicking in, and feels like she is at an important crossroad in her life. The film beautifully shows all this, her friendship with Gertie, how her family members have a world of their own and how they interact with the outer world, most often with Ruby’s assistance. It’s truly wholesome to see the love and care in the Rossi household and to just witness the strength of the family bond at every instance. They are incredibly open(transparent) and supportive with each other. Despite not having the ability to speak, they speak so clearly and all of their voices are heard and addressed in the family.

Troy Kotsur (Frank Rossi, father), and Marlee Matlin (Jackie Rossi, mother) deliver knockout performances. John Fiore and Emilia Jones also impress. Taking into account this is only Sian Heder’s 2nd fully fledged film, I will be keen to see her next film.

A word of mention to the cinematographer, Paula Huidobro, for capturing a film with a significant screen time of sign language and for the wonderful visuals.

Delving no further into the plot, I wholeheartedly recommend this small movie (10M$ budget movie) to everyone. Not only does this film have a lot of heart, it’s pretty well made too.

Verdict – 6/7 stars



  • It received three nominations at the 94th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, becoming the first film from Apple and starring predominantly deaf/non-hearing cast members (Kotsur, Matlin and Durant) in leading roles to be nominated in the category

  • Troy Kotsur is the first deaf man nominated for an acting Oscar.

  • Emilia Jones spent nine months learning American Sign Language, having singing lessons, and learning how to operate a fishing trawler.

  • Because the fishing scenes involved real fishing, the cast and crew had to abide by local fishing rules. One day they actually had to bring an observer with them (life imitating art from the movie) and they had to move one of the crew members from the boat set since they could only have a maximum of 10 people on the boat.

  • The on-set interpreters were all CODAs.

  • This movie is based on a French film, The Bélier Family (2014). However, when the movie was released, it was controversial in the deaf community because two of the main deaf characters were played by hearing actors, with the exception of Luca Gelberg, who is deaf in real life.

  • This has been rectified in CODA; all of the deaf members of the Rossi family are played by actors who are also deaf in their real lives (Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, and Daniel Durant).

  • After CODA was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, Apple bought its distribution rights for $25 million, a record at the time (2021).

  • In addition to standing for Child Of Deaf Adults, “coda” can also mean a concluding passage of music in a composition. The coda symbol is clearly visible on the page of musical symbols Professor Villalobos is teaching Ruby during a montage scene.

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Rahul Rana

Rahul Rana is an Entrepreneur helping Businesses make RRATIONAL decisions in marketing. He is also the creative director of the project Bloodybrilliant which is both a personal project and a community project simultaneously. Aside from films and technology, Rahul loves football and gaming.

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