CODA’s Middle American Heart Appends Industry Heavyweight: Did a Small Film With a Message Coming to the Mainstream Woke Hollywood?
On March 27, 2022, even ordinary movie watchers might be a little surprised when coda Won the much-awaited Best Picture Academy Award. Critics ridiculed it as a coming-of-age drama “feeling good”. In addition, the film, which was released on the AppleTV+ streaming service, did not spend much time in commercial movie theaters. Nevertheless, the American-French feature film also picked up Best Supporting Actor (Deaf Actor Troy Kotsur) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Cian Heder).
For a “small” film with a production budget of just $10 million, those wins were a huge catch. Film critics and industry audiences did not expect codaAn acronym for Child of Deaf Adults, toes the line with industry favorites like Jane Campion’s sweeping Western epic dog power Or the advent of Kenneth Branagh’s autobiographical masterpiece of the era Belfast,
But the mighty did it. In the process, coda Became the first film distributed by a streaming service to win Best Picture.
Perhaps even more culturally relevant, however, is the fact that coda It was the first film to have predominantly deaf characters in lead roles to win these major awards.
Given the odds, and the presence of more favored films by industry stalwarts codaDoes the success of the U.S. point to contemporary “awake” politics?
A short film with everyday relevance
Other contenders, released in 2021, featured traditional liberal or “awakening” themes more prominently. don’t look up A star-studded ensemble satirical comedy metaphor about climate change. King Richard Take racism at the center of Serena and Vanessa Williams’ heroic march to the pinnacle of the white professional tennis world. dog power Put gay sexual identity at the center of your plot revolving around toxic masculinity in the American West. Steven Spielberg’s Update story of the west Pays tribute to transgenderism by reintroducing a minor but important character. (my review story of the west can be found here.)
Instead, Academy voters chose to honor a story that is remarkably “normal.” coda The anger, society-wide desperation, or abrasiveness of Richard Williams’ campaign to push his children to greatness is not. The film doesn’t even raise its head on the American myth.
Rather, codaThe story centers on a teenage girl trying to find her sense of self while grappling with the fears, anxieties, and frustrations common to most families raising children.
The fact that she is the only hearing child from a deaf family makes for a compelling story. Its story is also one that resonates deeply with a universal human experience.
An everyday drama about “leaving the nest”?
Located in Gloucester, Massachusetts, a traditional fishing town north of Boston, Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones) is the only hearing member of a deaf family. He is part of a multi-generational fishing family. But the burden of communicating with the outside world falls entirely on his shoulders.
Her brother Leo (Deaf actor Daniel Durant) seeks more responsibility for working with the business and the fishing community. But his parents, Frank (Troy Kotsur) and Jackie (Marlie Matlin), believe he is not ready. They also do not believe that the fishing community will continue to accept them without Ruby.
But Ruby’s real talent and passion is not to run a family business. It’s singing. When her chorus teacher (Eugenio Derbez) discovers her voice, he encourages her to apply to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Frank and Jackie are forced to face a reality that is familiar to almost all parents: Are your kids ready to leave the proverbial nest? More importantly, are the parents willing to let them go?
CODA normalizes deaf families and relationships
what is extraordinary about coda How powerful and effective the film is at normalizing deaf families and relationships. Ruby, faced with an extraordinary responsibility, does not face pressure out of step with other children raised in small family businesses close with few resources.
The film doesn’t shy away from the challenges of growing up in a family whose parents are “different”. While Ruby is harassed and bullied by the “cool” girls at her school, just about anyone can recognize from her feelings of being ostracized. Just ask school nerds, kids with weird accents, socially awkward kids, or many autistic kids.
codahowever, also shows the complexity of these familial dynamics. When Ruby is born hearing, and as she grows up, the family becomes dependent on her. They retreat into their own world, distancing themselves from the larger world.
CODA is based on wide cultural differences
First-generation immigrant families who are non-native English speakers, to name a group, face similar challenges and exclusion. Children of non-native language speakers often adopt Ruby in a similar way – working to fit in by adopting local languages, cultural preferences, and patterns. In some cases, they are separated from their native languages and cultures. This behavior inherent in human evolution creates tension between their families and generations.
In codaAnyone who feels isolated or isolated from their larger community or social environment can relate to the plight of the Rossi family. the brilliance of coda It has the potential to provide the experience of Ruby in a broader context.
The core of the story, wisely, centers on Ruby’s attempt to find her own identity. Dialogue does not get into rhetoric or politics. Instead, the story focuses on Ruby’s own need to fulfill her family obligations and be independent and pursue her dreams.
Bureaucrats and politics put the family business at risk
The plot reaches its climax when a financial tragedy strikes the Rossi family for no fault of theirs. The twist reveals a surprisingly complex layer to the story. As the fishing community struggles to meet quotas, commercial fishing boats departing Gloucester are required to allow and pay a government “supervisor” on their boat. Federal officials will monitor their catch to make sure it doesn’t exceed the quota. Rossi, like his fellow fishermen, is barely making a living. The added cost of funding a regulator almost puts them out of business.
But the real danger comes from that unsympathetic observer who calls the Coast Guard for an alleged security breach, regardless of history or family performance.
CODA works by humanizing individual challenges
While controversial within the deaf community, writer-director Sean Heder, a hard-of-hearing person, said the choice to use Ruby’s extraordinary voice as a vehicle to discover her personal identity was a powerful bridge to the mainstream hearing community. Is. Ruby’s artistry elicits both sympathy as well as appreciation for the coming of age process for the human experience. Some other creative options may draw on the personal struggles and dynamics faced by CODA families for the hearing community.
coda Will undoubtedly also help break down barriers for the deaf community of actors and actresses. Marlee Matlin, an Academy Award winner herself, used her influence in the industry to ensure that deaf actors were cast in key parts. Sean Heder’s brilliant screenplay has shown how deaf character stories can be seamlessly woven into mainstream themes and stories.
In the end, coda Success becomes a story of how the quest for understanding, empathy, loyalty, and personal identity can be thwarted and then conquered in the face of insurmountable odds. These are universal human desires and hopes. They are not framed by political context, moral relativism, or a moment in human history or culture.
Voters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences found this choice correct.