Coda is a prime example of how taking the coming-of-age trope and pairing it with a family setting not everyone understands can be a beautiful and hilarious tale.
Coda tells the story of Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones), an aspiring singer in high school who is the only hearing member of her family. Her parents Frank (Troy Kotsur) and Jackie (Marlee Matlin), and older brother Leo (Daniel Durant), are all culturally deaf. She assists with the family fishing business and plans to join it full-time after finishing high school but has the ultimate dream of pursuing singing.
Ruby’s character has a highly unique bit of characterization, being someone whose passion is singing but doesn’t have anyone in her immediate family who can quite literally hear her.
The film doesn’t just rely on cultural deafness for its plot but takes a compelling approach of using real-life scenarios people with hearing loss have to experience every day.
❝ The Rossi family will feel like an extension of your own❞
Using Scenarios A General Audience Wouldn’t Recognize
Coda’s biggest strengths surround its plot and driving force of taking relatable scenarios all deaf people can understand. Even if you’re not deaf or don’t know anyone who is, the Rossi family will feel like an extension of your own, and you’ll soon get a grasp of how they live with their impairment.
For example, Ruby can play music as loud as she wants at any point in the day without any worry about disturbing her family. Her parents are overtly loud when they’re intimate, embarrassing her when she has a boy over. Her family relies on an alarm that displays a flash to wake them out instead of the usual alarm sound.
Ruby has to constantly be a translator for her family, whether regarding their business decisions, a meeting, or anything in their day-to-day life. Ruby is an integral member of her family, and her true passion for singing has the added conflict of needing to be there for her family.
Coda’s Use of Comedy
Coda isn’t just a great coming-of-age story but is genuinely hilarious. Her family eats loud, farts whenever, and doesn’t know when they’re too loud. What may seem uncommon to most is a familiar theme for anyone deaf or knows someone who is deaf.
It’s an element of comedy that isn’t typically found in a coming-of-age film. Most of these films rely on the comedy relief or side characters for the comedy portion. Instead, Coda’s real-life-like scenarios are beautifully real yet funny at times when it wants to be.
A Different Kind Of Coming-Of-Age Story
Part of Coda’s most considerable appeal has to do with its ability to be a different kind of coming-of-age story. The story doesn’t primarily focus on Ruby’s relationships at school, but rather her relationship with her family and their need for her.
Most coming-of-age stories take a different approach where the family doesn’t even care about their kid. Coda doesn’t rely on that cliche, instead choosing to tell a story about a family that quite literally needs their child in their life.
Not Relying On The Cliche Singing Trope
Whenever a film features a prominent character that has a passion for singing, it’s nearly impossible not to roll your eyes at some point. It’s a fine line of crafting a character with a natural voice and scenes that are overly done or cheesy. Coda thankfully never does that, with all of its singing scenes tastefully added.
Although Coda isn’t the most unpredictable film ever-made, its performances and dialogue ended up crafting a powerful film that’ll be looked back on as one of the best coming-of-age stories in recent memory. It’s hilarious, emotional, and impactful in all of the best ways possible.