Have You Watched “CODA”? (My Thoughts)

When CODA won Best Picture at the Academy Awards last week–that’s what we’ll remember from this year’s Oscar’s, right?–I was intrigued to learn more. We watched it on Apple TV this weekend.

I’m really glad I did. I haven’t cried that much in a movie in a long time.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the movie is how ordinary most of it is. Nearly every subplot is plucked from any other teenage/family drama: kid is picked on by the popular kids, a teacher takes interest in a student’s special talent, a love interest makes a mistake, kid wants to get out of a small town, etc.

Yet these familiar, overdone tropes work in the movie’s benefit, because there’s one huge difference woven throughout the movie: The lead character is a child of deaf adults (CODA). The tropes work because we need to see how this one twist changes everything–those paint-by-numbers sublots are the anchor for the twist.

The movie does an incredible job of showing how that twist impacts every aspect of this character’s life, as well as her family. For example, in a very early scene, Ruby is trying to study, and she’s bombarded by noise from her parents and brother (who is also deaf). They can’t hear the noise, but she can.

Not only does the movie feature three deaf actors–all of whom are incredible in CODA–but also the lead actress, Emilia Jones, learned to sign and sing for the role. I’m so impressed and inspired by her commitment to the role.

There are many moments in the movie that brought me to tears (just from being deeply moved, not necessarily from sadness at all), and there are two I wanted to briefly highlight (minor spoilers):

  • When Ruby’s teacher asks her to explain how singing makes her feel. She can’t vocalize it, so she signs instead.
  • When Ruby’s father is watching his daughter sing on stage. There’s no sound (we’re seeing through his eyes), and he realizes that instead of watching Ruby, he can watch how the other audience members are reacting to Ruby.

I’m getting choked up just thinking about it! If you can’t tell, I highly recommend CODA, and I’m curious to hear the moment from it that hit home the most.

7 thoughts on “Have You Watched “CODA”? (My Thoughts)”

  1. Loved the movie! The entire scene where Ruby is auditioning and her family enters to watch her made me so emotional.

    • Same here–I love when she started to sign for them while singing. The actress said that was one of the most difficult scenes to film.

  2. Just finished it and weeping now. So lovely. Thanks for the recommendation. Really powerful and sweet at the same time.

  3. I’m late to the party!

    As a CODA myself, I found myself writing my response to this blog post and “I’m curious to hear the moment from it that hit home the most.” and couldn’t stop writing for 7 pages!

    I don’t want to commandeer the blog post! You can see my thoughts here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1bEWqhMPn8KdjergjMHs_KOlfD8m8P8zpLK5OtaR_7VQ/edit#

    Visibility on what a “CODA” is, and that it’s a real thing.
    Deaf actors being in the limelight

    Don’t like:
    Deaf VS Music
    Lack of professional interpreters during the whole film
    Financially built up non-Deaf folks on Deaf content


Leave a Reply

Discover more from jameystegmaier.com

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading