CODA: A tender portrait of love, music and fishing
Photo: Junior Libby @ publicdomainpictures, https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=26797&picture=fishing-boat
CODA – meaning “child of deaf adults” – is in many ways a typical coming-of-age story. It features a high school student facing decisions about his future, discovering his own interests and finding his first love. Yet as the only hearing person in her family of four, Ruby (Emilia Jones) has to deal with it all while considering that pursuing her dreams may not only jeopardize the family fishing business, but also disrupt life. unit as a whole. It’s a thoughtful yet warm portrait of a family at a crossroads and a young woman happily exploring her new found love for music and singing, while still managing to be a powerful class exploration despite its somewhat bit unimaginative.
The class in question is above all a financial class. Heartbreaking depictions of a family constantly at financial risk as the fishing industry grows increasingly hostile and corrupt provide the backdrop for this drama. Yet he is also clearly concerned with social exclusion, first portrayed on the periphery of the community due to their deafness. or rather due to people’s reluctance to communicate with them. Older brother Leo, who steers the boat alongside Ruby and their father, struggles with this particular notion as he yearns for more independence and responsibility. For example, he is visibly frustrated when Ruby resumes price negotiations for their fish, despite the fact that she got a better price, he is denied space to figure things out on his own.
This tension between individuality and cooperation is at the heart of this story, not only in Leo’s arc but also in Ruby’s choices for the future and the evolution of the fishing community as a whole. Ultimately, it’s a tension that the film also embraces and questions, but always in a thoughtful and humanistic way. It’s most powerful in a later scene where Ruby merges the seemingly polar opposite worlds of her music and deaf family by signing and singing simultaneously. The result is a deeply moving scene that illustrates that walking away doesn’t necessarily mean leaving behind.
However, the expressive and unique signature isn’t reflected in the film’s rather unambitious visual aesthetic which consists mostly of set pieces that wouldn’t look out of place in most streaming shows. Additionally, the scope of the story can sometimes get in the way of Ruby’s self-exploration, as a romantic subplot with another choir singer feels underdeveloped. It’s not that their connection isn’t believable, but rather among the other nuanced characters, Miles’ love interest seems to fit a little too perfectly into a cliched boyfriend role.
Nonetheless, the film ultimately shines through its relatively minor shortcomings and cleverly reshapes the coming-of-age mold for Ruby’s specific experience as CODA – ultimately resulting in a touching image that generally chooses genuine emotion over film cliche and community rather than individualism.
CODA is available now on Apple TV+.
Tags: apple tv+, coda, coming of age, deaf, emilia jones, indie