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Ruby (Emilia Jones), 17 and a senior in high school is the only hearing child of deaf adults (CODA). She spends her days working with her father and brother on their fishing boat off the Massachusetts coast and being the bridge between their world and the hearing world. The parents depend on her to be this bridge, while her brother resents her for it and wants, as the older brother, to take responsibility for their success. Mr. Villalobos, the choir teacher, takes an interest in Ruby when he discovers that she is a talented singer and has the potential to go to college on a scholarship. The story feels familiar yet has a very different twist. What elevates the film is the acting by the central family, led by Emilia Jones (who plays Ruby) and supported by Marlee Matlin (Ruby’s mom), Troy Kotsur (her dad), and Daniel Durant (her brother). It is a credit to the director that all three of the family members are deaf actors, which adds to the sense of realism. I also liked the actor who played the choir teacher, sometimes funny and driven to help Ruby find her own sense of expression. The story felt authentic and was uplifting. Big thumbs up from me. (2021; 4 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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