If Ted Lasso hasn’t been enough to convince you to subscribe to Apple TV Plus (the Emmys are proof: the show is gold), the Apple original film Coda should be the reason you finally go all in. I came across it on a recent night after channel-surfing in a room full of opinions: my mom and my spouse and I were all in search of a movie that would please us all. (No small feat.)
That’s when we found Coda. The film—with its 96 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the #1 reason we chose it—had a familiar premise. A small-town girl named Ruby (played by Emilia Jones) spends her days assisting her parents and brother with the family business when it turns out she has a major talent all her own. She can sing! With aspirations to leave her life behind and move to a big city to see her musical talents through, she’s got the support of everyone—an idealistic teacher, a newfound crush, the works.
Her parents are the only ones who can’t get behind her talent, but the reason for this lies in the title, Coda. In music, it’s a passage that brings a piece to its end, but in the case of this film, it’s also an acronym: Child of Deaf Adult. Yep, Ruby happens to be the only hearing member of her entire family, one of the main reasons they have a hard time supporting her aspirations to sing. (One of the most revealing lines of the film is uttered by Ruby’s mother, played by Marlee Matlin, “If I was blind, would it make you want to paint?”)
What results is a breathtaking film that’s, yes, about coming of age and figuring out your identity in relation to the familial one you’ve known, but with a twist: How do you leave life as you know it behind when your parents and brother all lean on you to hear?
OK, a quick list of reasons to watch the film:
1. The cast. It’s not just Jones, who lends her piercingly beautiful voice to a Marvin Gaye duet you won’t soon forget. It’s her father (played by Troy Kotsur), her brother (played by Daniel Durant) and mother (Matlin)—all actors who are deaf—and their portrayal of unconditional love meeting desperation as they struggle to relate to their child and support a dream they can’t quite understand.
2. The pacing and perspective flipping. Far too often, stories that you want to be great blow it by moving too quickly; they rush the beginning…or the ending and the result is, well, a less-than-stellar Rotten Tomatoes score. Instead, Coda builds to a poignant crescendo. On top of that, it’s artistic. Throughout the film, you not only hear the world from Ruby’s point of view, but from that of her family, too.
3. The music. It’s hard to deny the appeal of a film with a high stakes performance at the end. Let’s just say this one involves Joni Mitchell. (Tears are going to flow in the best possible way.)
PureWow Rating: 4.5 Stars
Bottom line: Every now and again, you stumble upon a total gem of a film that’s not only feel-good, but also broadens your perspective just by seeing it. The fact that it also pleases a multitude of viewing preferences? That’s just a bonus.
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