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'CODA' Review: Listen to Me, Mom and Dad
Sian Heder's film won three Academy Awards.
This past week, we've been awash in coverage of 'the slap heard around the world,' which has nothing to do with movies, but everything to do with famous and/or wealthy people who are treated differently than everyone else in the world, simply because they are famous and/or wealthy.
As a cord-cutter, I watched the alarming clip with interest the morning after the Academy Awards ceremony, the increasingly disturbing coverage peaked in time for the announcement of Bruce Willis "stepping away" from the movie business due to his deteriorating mental condition, followed by a media report that he had been displaying warning signs for some time.
These events have gained far greater attention than the Academy Award winners themselves, which were a diversely representative lot. I haven't seen all the Oscar winner, but I did see the Academy Award winner for Best Picture, an independent film that enjoyed its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and was subsequently picked up by Apple, which gave it a limited U.S. theatrical release in August 2021, along with a simultaneous worldwide debut on their streaming service. I wrote just a few words about it, which are included below.
Salty in its language and coarse in its depiction of the life of a tight-knit family in New England that makes its living from the sea, CODA (Child Of Deaf Adults) is initially off-putting as it pushes familiar buttons. In time, though, the winning performance by Emilia Jones, as the only hearing member in her family, bolstered by ace dramatic performances by Marlee Martin and Troy Kotsur as her deaf parents, and a key supporting performance by Daniel Durant as her deaf older brother, carry the day.
Director Sian Heder, who also wrote the Americanization of a French-language film, avoids unnecessary sentimentality as long as she can, which then increases the impact in the stirring final sequences, which brought me to tears multiple times. Recognizing the importance of the subject matter for mainstream audiences, Heder has made a dramatic comedy that prompts viewers to forgive its baser instincts.
CODA became the third remake to win an Academy Award for Best Picture, following in the thundering footsteps of William Wyler's Ben Hur (1959), which was a remake of a silent version released in 1925, and Martin Scorcese's The Departed (2006), an inferior remake of Hong Kong crime drama Internal Affairs (2002). I haven't seen La famille Bélier (2014) yet, the original French film evidently did not gain a U.S. release, nor is it apparently available on any streaming services at the moment.
CODA also won Academy Awards for Sian Heder's screenplay and Troy Kotsur's fine supporting performance. As noted, it's filled with an abundance of salty language, which is why it's rated PG-13, but the overall message concerns a family's love and devotion to one another. The film remains available for your viewing and tear jerking pleasure. [Now streaming on Apple TV+.]