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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Both Sides Now
by Betty Jo Tucker

The Oscar® for Best Picture at the 94th Annual Academy Awards went to CODA! Not even Will Smith slapping Chris Rock could dampen the joy in the Dolby Theatre for this well-deserved award. Personally, my husband and I believe this offering contains the best movie scene of the year. It features Joni Mitchell’s lovely “Both Sides Now” sung better than we’ve ever seen or heard before.

CODA stands for Child of Deaf Adults, and the main character, Ruby Rossi (played beautifully by Emilia Jones) happens to be a CODA. The movie follows the challenges of a 17-year-old as she realizes her musical talent and tries to make her family understand her serious interest in music.

“It’s like a daughter of a blind mother wanting to be an artist,” says her mom Jackie (portrayed by Marlee Matlin). Her dad Frank (played by Troy Kotsur, who won Best Supporting Actor) seems more sympathetic, but he knows how much they need Ruby to help with their fishing business. It’s a bad time for the business and things are not going well financially.                

CODA inspired my heart to sing.

It gave me hope and a tingling.

My own hearing is almost gone.

And hearing people help me along


It’s dear ones translating for me.

What a burden that job must be!

 I understand Ruby’s dire plight.

How will she make things turn out right?


She needs to help her family.

They all are deaf -- but not Ruby. .

She’s helped them for most of her life.

But without music, she’ll live with strife.


Coming-of-age and music too,

this dramedy should work for you.   

The film boasts laughs and love and tears.

It’s one I’m glad to give loud cheers!  

Director Sian Heder, who also won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar®, wisely picked deaf actors for three key roles here. Matlin, Kotsur and Daniel Durant (as Ruby’s brother) add realism to the family scenes. A place in history resulted for CODA because it’s the first time a deaf male actor (Kotsur) won an Oscar®. And, of course, his co-star Matlin already made history many years ago when she earned a Best Leading Actress Oscar® for her wonderful performance in Children of a Lesser God.

Let’s not forget Emilia Jones, who learned ASL before sinking her teeth into the role of Ruby and who shares her priceless singing voice with us in this widely acclaimed motion picture.  

(Released by Apple + and rated “PG-13” by MPAA.)     

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