starring Emilia Jones, Eugenio Derbez, Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin
screenplay by Sian Heder, based on the original motion picture La Famille Belier by Éric Lartigau
directed by Sian Heder
by Walter Chaw It says something, something terrible, that the Deaf community has expressed gratefulness for CODA because it's some kind of representation, while also expressing trepidation because CODA trafficks in harmful stereotypes and centres the hearing perspective. The great Marlee Matlin made news by insisting that deaf actors be cast as the film's deaf family, and that's amazing, huge, a tremendous step in the right direction--and still, the material is so rancid that all of their great work highlights how desperately this community deserves to have material worthy of them. CODA is a grotesque bit of "big performance"/workingman's blues uplift trash in the vein of Mr. Holland's Opus or Dangerous Minds. It has a high-school audition montage, for Christ's sake. (A practicing-for-the-big-recital montage, too.) CODA posits that Deaf people don't like music even though it shows the parents, Jackie (Matlin) and Frank (Troy Kotsur), pulling up to a heavy rap beat, suggesting that the film itself doesn't consider rap to be music, just a noise even Deaf people can appreciate.