Candid Cinema

Sundance Film Festival: ‘Coda’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Coda directed by Siân Heder is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen. Right from the start, it felt like it was going to be something special. A young girl, named Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones) is the only hearing member of a deaf family. At 17, she works with her father and brother every morning before school to help keep their fishing business afloat. Ruby then finds another piece of herself when she joins the school choir and we find that she is extremely talented. She is then torn between staying with her parents or auditioning for a Berekely music scholarship.

The film is heartwarming, hilarious (I did not think it would be this funny), extremely charming and emotional. The direction from Heder is fantastic, she made such great choices in every single scene to show the family dynamic. Everything about Coda was naturally effortless and it highlighted so many important life lessons in regards to parenting, basic human decency and adolescence. It was hard to see Ruby struggle in choosing her family or her new path in life. High school is already hard to navigate as it is and to have added pressure from your parents to help with the family business is a lot to think about.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

This entire cast worked so well together and brought such raw, emotional moments to the screen. What I loved about this film was that it felt realistic. The reason why Coda is so refreshing is because you see the family dynamic first and then understand what Ruby is going through. Her whole life she felt like she was more of a translator than a daughter and it got to her. What really resonated with me was when she said that she never did anything without her family. There are moments that define your independence and when Ruby joined her school choir, finding her passion, the detachment began.

We see Ruby’s bravery and determination to reach her goal because it’s all hers. It’s something personal to her because she feels like she’s never gotten to do anything for herself. She is breaking free from what her parents built her to be (unintentionally) and she pushes herself to do it even more. No one likes change and we see that in Coda but sometimes it’s necessary in order for better things to fall into place. The third act of this film, is where the heart is and it will bring you to tears. There are such beautiful moments shared between Ruby and her parents that it will give you love from a different perspective.

The direction from Siân Heder is fantastic, there were many choices made that stood out throughout the film. The sound design is also important to note because of the way Heder wanted to capture the full perspective of the moment. Coda is a film that offers so many different perspectives, which allows viewers to gain an appreciation for stories such as this one. It will definitely pull on your heartstrings and make you want to hug your own parents, to thank them for everything they have done for you.

6 responses to “Sundance Film Festival: ‘Coda’ Review”

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