The vicissitudes of life speak with universal heartfelt familiarity in what appears to be a specialty Hallmark feature.
But, Coda has an inspiring quality from the way writer/director Sian Heder makes its themes resonate. The emotions are there to experience, and she does so from a solid linchpin in seventeen-year old Ruby Rossi.
Ruby, endowed with wit and steeliness by British actress Emilia Jones, is the only person in her family able to hear. As she works alongside parents Jackie (Marlee Matlin) and Frank (Troy Kotsur) and brother Leo (Daniel Durant) to run their fishing business out of northeastern MA, an important interpreting role.
Heder’s screenplay hinges on Ruby’s realization of her love of music, specifically as a vocalist. The school choir instructor (Eugenio Derbez) sees a talent in the making, and puts her under his tutelage to do a duet with Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo of Sing Street) whom she’s been infatuated with for some time.
This way into deafness has much empathy about it, notably in an amusingly zestful manner. It could feel like a ploy by the filmmakers for musical inclination in this kind of milieu. Yet, the quirks and attitudes have the personality that brings a raucousness to what could be trite in a coming-of-age narrative. So the interplay of the actors makes for an abnormally absorbing watch, working off a particular needs and responsibilities. It doesn’t occur the kind of conflict that can occur when law enforcement can be involved on the briny.
Martin and Kotsur take a winning piquant tact that adds to the banter, even if their devotion may not have the kind of mercy for this gifted jaded teen. Durant proves more than occasionally effective while the Irish Walsh-Peelo and especially Derbez can be scene-steeling in their own right.
Being in a loving, ebullient deft family has its messiness and Heder doesn’t shy away from it, with a call to cultural adaptation. A remake of a 2014 French film turns out to have a bracing humanity with earned crowd-pleasing stokes. CODA is an acronym for Child of Deaf Adult and it doesn’t make any unnecessary demands on audiences who will succumb to its exuberance without preaching to the choir.