Subhash K Jha Reviews The 10 Oscar-Nominated Films, Predicts Winner
First things first. Never before have 10 films been nominated in the Best Picture category. This can only signify one thing: that 2021 was an exceptional year at the movies. Barring maybe one or two nominees, I love all the nominees.
Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley is a dark sinister menacing film with a stand-out performance by Bradley Cooper. The 1946 novel by William Lindsay Gresham on which the film is based is dark sinister twisted and unlikeable. The film follows the same route, portraying its con-artiste hero Stan as an illicit illusionist who lucks out when he manages to guess a grieving couple(the extraordinary Mary Steenburgen and Peter MacNeill)’s source of sorrow and proceeds to exploit their feelings.
Stan then bites into more than he can chew when he tries his clairvoyant tricks with a mobster Ezra(Richard Jenkins). This episode ends on a disastrous note, both for Stan and for the audience , as its underlying message of nemesis comes too late. All through the film Bradley Cooper plays Stan as an artless , though not heartless deceiver, more sinner against than sinned. Stan’s self righteous outlawry comes to a sticky end with no one left any happier , us the audience included,than the point at which it all began. Nonetheless The Nightmare Alley is a work of unexpected rewards provide you stick it out. The way in which Stan misuses his gyan on reading the future, turning it smoothly into into a scam industry, shows that a moral degeneration is the worst scourge since the plague….give or take the pandemic.
“I was born for it,” sobs Bradley Cooper’s Stan Carlisle at the end of what is an exhausting and yet exhilarating 160-minute journey into the heart of darkness.He refers to what was known as the ‘geek’ in the circuses of yore where a man was chained and starved and put on display like an animal in a cage.The geek in Nightmare Alley reminded me of the creature in Guillermo del Toro’s last film The Shape Of Things for which he won an Oscar for Best Director. There is no such danger in Nightmare Alley. The film’s rocky destiny is marred by bouts of selfdoubt that every character goes through and yet proceeds to do the wrong things, from adultery to forgery to felony.
This is a world of desperate gold-diggers,fortune-hunters with no patience or appetite for guilt. Cooper and Blanchett have a great deal of fun with their parts, although this is not the occasion for it.After scamming several who trust him, Stan meets the conniving seductress Lilith(Cate Blanchett) who is sharp and saucy; in other words Stan with his dim-witticism and dull comprehension of human nature in spite of being a fortune teller,is no match for Lilith.
More his league is the straightforward dis-enchantress(a new coinage to describe a woman who is neither seductive nor aspires to be) Zeena(Toni Collette) and Mary(Rooney Mara). The former ,Stan fucks, the latter he betrays until Lilith fucks him over.
Nothing is what it seems in Nightmare Alley. The drama unravels like a mirror of illusions in the travelling carnival where most of the darkness erupts into a blinding light of frightening blight where nothing is what it seems and what we see is not even a part of the truth regarding the lives of the characters who live in a permanent state of impermanence and treachery.
Having said the above, let me hasten to clarify that I didn’t like the film as much as the Oscars committee, which in all its wisdom, has shortlisted this strange untameable beast of a film for Best Picture. Best of luck with that.Nightmare Alley leaves us with more questions than answers on the nature of faith and belief.
I always used to wonder what the fable of the Emperor’s Clothes meant. Then I saw Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. And finally I knew what it meant when everyone goes bonkers over something that doesn’t exist just to be in-sync with the politics of the times.Dune is a weightless epic.And ultimately pointless. For a good 190 minutes Dune takes us through an intricate labyrinth of trust and betrayal fanned and fuelled by the courtly conspiracies of a futuristic Moghul dynasty. It is a symphony with no orchestra. A world ostensibly run by a great vision with no insight into the human conditions, just a series of striking images created on the drawingboard and executed on screen with a meticulousness as hard to achieve as it is to believe.
Dune is a work of epic dimensions hollowed inside-out. It is numbed by a stream of surreal images that are put on screen like paintings in a posh gallery where only the very rich are allowed. They buy the coveted paintings without questioning their value.Sorry , I am not buying into the panoramic vision of this emptied-out numbed charade where the futuristic vision is stretched out so far, we need a telescope, not a 3D spectacle, to see the soul beyond the spectacle.
The visual imagery is incredibly vivid.Full credit to cinematographer Greig Fraser for bringing a sense of epic doom into the landscape. The soul is inert, Perhaps dead. We would never know which. Sometimes staying still is seen as a sign of sublimity.Dune is a case in point.
But oh, what slothful sublimity is this?! Dune opens in the distance future,sometime after the year 10,000 which makes the world safe for us as far as this kaleidoscopic cock-n-bull presentation is concerned.It’s hard to pin this futuristic fiesta down to any particular theme or even emotion.There are scenes where I found myself trying to catch some essence of emotions between father and son Oscar Isaac and the very happening Timothee Chalamet. Sadly, there is little closeness between the two actors.They seem more troubled by their costumes than the troubles that the plot heaps on their besieged kingdom.
Perhaps the sheer scale of the sets discourages any human emotions to develop. By the time Oscar Isaac(fabulous in Scenes From A Marriage) is pinned lifelessly to a chair in front of the villains, I was more worried about how little life there was in the high drama.It is all too dry and sterile. Though essentially the story of a father and son battling for a rare species of spice against enemies who can exterminate with a strong blow of their mouth(bad breath perhaps?), son Chalamet spends more time with ‘mom’ Rebecca Fergusson who wears a sour look all through the film, as if she knows what the outcome of this outing into the dystopian distance is going to be.
The caucus of villains played by Stellan Skarsgård ,Dave Bautista and Stephen McKinley Henderson look like they could so with some loosening up. They behave like tightly-wound dolls who would like to be masters of their own destiny. Two superstars Josh Brolin and Jason Momoa play Chalamet mentors.What do they teach him? Not courtship? Chalamet is so amateurish with his romantic co-star Zendaya. They behave more like siblings than lovers and for all we know they may turn out to be long lost brother and sister in Part 2 of this torpid exercize in selfindulgence. Best of luck with that one. I am out.
Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast is an outright heartwarmer. Growing up in Belfast at the peak of the Catholic-Protestant conflict in 1969 was not all a bed of thorns for writer-director Kenneth Branagh.To be honest, I saw Branagh looking at his childhood in Belfast with rose-tinted glasses. And the more he relies on Haris Zambarloukos’ reflective black-and-white photography to give his nostalgic urges a wide berth, the more euphoric the broken world of warfare and strife appears to be.
Not that there is anything wrong with a happy interpretation of an inherently bleak past. We all tend to shut out the ugly dark passages in our memory bank. This doesn’t necessarily make the memory bank any less bankable.In spite of that dizzying glow of warm recollection that bathes Belfast in a blaze of colours and emotions, it seems to be an unimpeachably scrupulous representation of the past, down to the street where our little 9-year old hero Buddy(newcomer Jude Hill, doing that Shirley Temple acting template , whether by design or willinilly, I can’t say) lives with his harried mother(Caitríona Balfe, dazzling in her workingclass sexiness) and grandparents(played by Ciarán Hinds and an almost comically revamped Judi Dench).
Absentee father (Jamie Dornan) keeps making weekend appearances to argue with his mother on whether they should all move to England. Or else the family is at the movies singing along in Chitty Chiity Bang Bang or ogling at Raquel Welch in One million Year BC.Interestingly the films that the family watches in movie theatres are in colour while the family is throughout shot in black-and-white , imbuing the ambience with a sepia complexion suggesting a close link between memory and colour(or the lack of it).
Belfast is a beguiling blend of realism and style. It is smokily shot to convey a sense of ongoing seductiveness as Ireland burns with religious strife. The emotional scenes are sniffles in sly motions of cryptic emotions. Every actor catches on to Kenneth Branagh’s charmed memory waltz , hopping and skipping as he does from a drama of despair to a comedy of manners like Jane Austen on a Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote-trip .
The mood of the presentation, though deceptively upbeat, secretes a deep sense of loss and when little Buddy finally leaves his troubled neighbourhood in Ireland with his family, we get a heartbreaking closeup of grandma Judi Dench whispering, ‘Go, go, and don’t look back.’If only life’s choices were that simple.
In Jane Campion’s The Power Of The Dog Benedict Cumberbatch, best known for playing Dr Strange in the Marvel franchise, comes up with his strangest most haunting performance in Jane Campion’s film, her first in ten years and her best since The Piano. Here too the piano plays pivotal part, though the one playing it is rapidly relegated to a non-pivotal position in a power-game that is enrapturing in its intensity.
You have probably heard and read reams of praise for this enigmatic shocking film on the burden of homophobic masquerades and the concept of a home, as opposed to a stopover destination.It all begins and ends in 1925 when Rose Gordon(Kirsten Dunst) moves to her new husband George Burbank(Jesse Plemons)’s affluent ranch where she must take on his uncouth violent brother Phil(Cumberbatch) who rejects his new Bhabhi as a “cheap schemer” out to usurp his innocent sweet brother’s wealth.
The tug ‘o’ war between Phil and Rose is so tilted I expected her to be crushed , killed, if not physically by her boorish brother-in-law then by his murderous hateful looks. As Rose, Kirsten Dunst simply withers before our eyes as Phil reduces her to a nervous alcoholic wreck. But this is not a film about marital discord and sibling jealousy. Nothing so simple for Campion(whose fan I’ve been ever since I saw The Piano 28 years ago). Jane Campion wraps her tale around a tantalizing erotica, teasing and provoking our senses into examining and re-examining the concepts of toxic masculinity and homophobia.
As in The Piano where Harvey Keitel had gone full frontal, Cumberbatch sheds all his clothes and inhibitions to deliver a performance that would be talked about for generations. There is much that he conveys about his uncouth character without enunciating the requisite abusive words, with just one glance, one twitch of the eye.So is Cumberbatch’s performance greater than the film? Not quite. The Power Of The Dog is a great GREAT film, filled with piercing silences and unspoken rebukes embedded in relationships that are not just incomplete but also left dangerously dangling at the edge.
I wouldn’t want to insult Campion’s coercive and compelling neo-classic by calling it “edgy”. It is much more that. The storytelling sinks deep into the abyss of the lost human soul in search of a relevance to existence beyond what we see and what we get.So powerful is the central performance that it’s easy to overlook the other actors who confer an inexplicable immediacy to this period drama. Kodi Smit-McPhee as Rose’s ‘soft’ son is specially fluent in a complex role.
The Power Of The Dog is not into easy solutions to the tangled web of human deceit. It shows a spectacular regard for the inbuilt complexities in human relationships. It neither tries to mend nor bend broken relationships. It is just content to be there when this happens.
And now to Reinaldo Marcus Green’s King Richard….At what point in one’s parental duties does push come to shove?This is the larger question that this bio-pic tracing the phenomenal rise to world championship of the Williams sisters, addresses.And this is where this engrossing real-life film acquires an extra dimension.The exploration of the arching relationship between child and parent,and in this case between protégée and mentor, is explored with surprising meticulousness.
I say, surprising , because this is a palpably massy production, aimed at the maximum viewership.If King Richard was a Bollywood production there would be songs. Sassy and insouciant, King Richard, as the title suggests, portrays the Williams’ sisters Venus and Serena’s father as a despotic doer. As Will Smith, in the role and performance of his lifetime, keeps saying, he knows that both the sisters are born champ material. From that moment of realization he doesn’t spare his daughters a single moment for recreational activities such as boys. Conveniently the neighbourhood boys are shown as predatory layabouts with nothing to do except ogle at girls who probably have higher aims in life, aspirations that are largely lacking in a community that has risen up the social scale the hard way.
While the two actresses playing Venus and Serena ,Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton, are ‘pick’-perfect, this is Will Smith’s show all the way: make no mistake about that.Smith is so brilliant in portraying an indefatigable vicarious achiever, he not only knocks the ball out of the court he also makes the court his stage for a grandslam performance.A bully and an insufferably arrogant father, Smith’s Richard Williams is borderline megalomaniac. Somewhere in the self-serving daughters-pushing achiever , there is also a concerned father who dreams big for his daughters.
In some ways Will Smith reminded me of Aamir Khan in Nitesh Tiwari’s Dangal .Of course Smith’s performance is far superior to Khan’s. Watch him in the lengthy sequence where he tells his daughter Venus about the ravages of racism that he faced as a child when his father left him unprotected during a racial attack. Smith’s face is filled with pain and determination. He will see his daughters conquer the world, no matter what it takes.
Where the film flounders is in delineating Richard’s relationship with his wife,played well by Aunjanue Ellis. The husband and wife’s big confrontation sequence is so clumsily written, going from recrimination to reconciliation with no connecting dots, that I ended up wondering what was the need to show the fissures in the marriage when the entire focus of the plot is to accentuate the father’s determination to see his daughter’s at the summit.
King Richard is not without its quota of flaws. The Daddy-knows-best mantra that runs through the narrative must have taken its toll on Venus and Serena’s self-worth. We always see the girls as obedient except once when Venus insists on a career decision suggested by her coach, played brilliantly by Jon Bernthal.Otherwise,Will Smith enjoys playing the bossy daddy as much as we enjoy watching him play lord of the offsprings.
Not half as awful as the savage reviews suggest, Andrew McKay’s Don’t Look Up is that oddball comedy about the end of the world which takes swiping potshots at the Establishment without any lasting impact.Only in an American comedy as irreverent and savage as this would we have a young scientist played by Jennifer Lawrence(oddly listless)telling the moronic US President(Meryl Streep , doing a Trump in drag) that she didn’t vote for him, and boy, is she glad she didn’t!
If irreverence be the food of satire, then play on! … Don’t Look Up is just your poison. It is viciously anti-establishment and adroitly bang-on in its endeavour to bring down all the holy cows of the Establishment. While Streep is a scream as the tone-deaf Prez, Jonah Hill as the Chief Of Staff who happens, just happens, to be the Prez’ s son, is a riot of ambivalent ideology and scrambled priorities.
Taking the extreme view, the spoofy goofy film painstakingly takes down the governmental machinery, part by part, and exposes it for what it is : inept and brutally insensitive.We get that. But once this pattern of exposing the dimwitted administration is established,a numbing monotony kicks into the satire which grows from tantalized to just plain tired.It’s as if the more noise the presentation makes, the less it deserves to be heard. After a point Don’t Look Up just continues to go around in exasperating circles. In fact, the last 45 minutes of the plot could easily be done away with.
By the time the highly-regarded Timothee Chalamet shows up for a spot of kissy-kissy with Jennifer Lawrence the film is more or less dead on survival.Speaking of intimacy, our Gujarati Himesh Patel(remember him from Danny Boyle’s Yesterday?) shows up early in the bustling self-important goings-on as Jennifer Lawrence’s slimy boyfriend named ‘Philip’. Not Indian, I presume?
There are some highpoints, though. Besides Streep who is the plot’s ‘Trump’ card, Leonardo diCaprio’s scruffy scientist’s act is enjoyable. His meltdown on a news channel is the cutoff point , after which the narration goes rapidly downhill. Cate Blachett as a predatory news anchor and specially Mark Rylance as a spaced-out philanthropist billionaire are sexily cocky in spurts.But I am not too sure such incentives add up to an experience worth expending our 190 minutes over. There is nothing earth-shattering about this satire on an earth-destroying comet. It takes savage swings at several sacred institutions of American democracy without hitting target.
Is Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car the most vital Japanese film since Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams? More importantly, is Hamaguchi the most important Japanese filmmaker since Kurosawa? The world’s critics’ community seems to thinks so: his other 2021 film Wheel Of Fortune & Fantasy is in my opinion a superior work , but the chances of Drive My Car winning the Oscar for best foreign film are pegged at almost-there. Indeed Drive My Car is something we have never seen before in cinema of any language. It is cryptic and compelling, exhilarating and yet exasperating in its refusal to let us into the characters’ inner world.
Really, we can only guess at what our protagonist, a filmmaker named Yūsuke Kafuku is getting at. Is he lunging for immortality through his work? It doesn’t look like it. Throughout the 3 hours of playing time Yusuke seems disaffected from his surroundings, a state of ‘being there but not being there’ which is further compounded by Yusuke’s wife Oto(Reika Kirishima)’s auto-eroticism. Oto conjures stories during orgasm which her husband is supposed to memorize during their love-making as she forgets her stories the next morning.
In the midst of all this ruminative creative conceit, Yusuke is detected with partial blindness, just after he catches his wife with another man in their bedroom(after a missed flight, the best fictional alibi for proving infidelity since Man invented the motion picture and the airplane).
Then Oto dies.
I thought this was the end of the movie. But as Karen Carpenter once reminded us, we’ve only just begun.And to hammer in the fact that what we’ve seen so far is just the prelude, the director plays the credit titles at this point of his linear but loopy narrative , when the inwardly-grieving Yusuke proceeds to Hiroshima to direct a stage version of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya.
Yusuke is assigned a female chauffeur to drive him around(Drive My Car, remember?).
The driver,an 18-year old imperturbable stoic girl named Misaki(Tōko Miura)now becomes the focus of attention , as Yusuke finds himself leaning forward from the back seat to reach out to his graceful ostensibly emotion-less driver. Their interaction is initially tentative but soon becomes an escape-route for Yusuke from the implacable fortress that he has built around himself.
Complicating the scenario even more(yes, the swirls of conundrum never cease in this mystical journey of a filmmaker into the innermost recesses of his most inaccessible emotions) is the fact that Koji(Masaki Okada) the young man with whom Yusuke had caught his wife , is also part of the Chekhov stage adaptation which Yusuke is directing.
At the end Misaki drives Yusuke to her native place where she has buried some of her own secrets. By the time we reach the end of the long drive into the darkness ,we are left with more question than answers on the creative process: Yusuke’s directorial style seems much more accessible than what director Ryusuke Hamaguchi has attempted in Drive My Car.Or maybe Hamaguchi sees himself as a superior filmmaker to his protagonist. Hamaguchi has extracted more juice from a short story(by Haruki Murakam) than other creative minds would squeeze out of a 2000-page novel.In making a 3-hour film out of 5-page story, Hamaguchi is often seen stretching the emotions way beyond their prescribed limits. Drive My Car tells us that loss and bereavement are best confronted when they are least expected to. That we can get into our favourite car and drive through stretches of the imagination with nothing to lose except our stifling dependence on the trappings of every day living.
Drive My Car is meant to leave us wiser than before.Tragically I was left more confused about the conundrum of life after seeing the film.Can a filmmaker really deliver us from our uncertainties with his cinema? This question troubles the film’s protagonist Yūsuke Kafuku as much as director Ryusuke Hamaguchi.As a spectator I would rather not interfere.
American auteur Paul Thomas Anderson has made masterpieces like There Will Be Blood and Boogie Nights. Licorice Pizza is not one of them. As a matter of fact Licorice Pizza(which I confess I didn’t know the meaning of and had to look it up to know it’s a slang for vinyl records, though I still don’t know the relations between records and pizzas) is nowhere near Anderson’s best. In Boogie Nights he had imagined the early years of the porn bom with such visual vigour that it never felt forced.
Here it’s all about atmosphere, baby. So lay it on thick!It’s San Fernando Valley in 1976 and Anderson is all revved up about the hyper-activity everywhere. He whips up a storm in a teacup,and wants to be blown away.The crises are hardly worth a second glance, some social, others political , none in the league of any great revelation let alone any sign of a revolution.
I have lost count of the number of retro-American films where the girl (preferably chewing gum, though not this time) is bored of all the attention the boy insists on showering on her. During those days it was not called stalking; it was courtship. Hence Gary(debutant Cooper Hoffman, son of the late and borderline-great Philip Seymour Hoffman who did great work with Anderson in Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love and The Master) follows the pretty Alana(Alana Haim) around like Mary’s little lamb. He stares at her open-mouthed even when she warns him not to act creepy(I am not too sure staring at women was considered ‘creepy’ in the 1970s).
Soon she succumbs to Gary’s dubious charms although she is 10 years his senior. They are thrown into the middle of what looks like a contrived conundrum, selling waterbeds to sleepless Americans.One after other a crisis shows up in the script forcing the narrative into tight corners where Gary and Alana squeeze in as best as they can, hair duly tied into a puzzle. Regrettably, writer-director Anderson has little patience with letting the characters breathe. The two young protagonists are shown sliding into the tragic-comic zone with nary a space for a sigh.
A full redundant episode features a real-life temperamental producer Jon Peters played by Bradley Cooper only because Cooper wants to finger a freaky part. So Peters harasses and bullies our two protagonists who take revenge in unexpected ways and then when petrol runs out(the fuel crisis forms a political undercurrent in the feverish goings-on) they roll their truck down a sloping winding road in reverse gear.
Before I could settle down to savouring the eccentric humour , Alana is a volunteer in a young dynamic politician’s election campaign . The politician Joel Wachs(Benny Safdie) is a closeted homosexual whose lover is a sad man.Alan gives him TLC to the sad gay man and runs iron out her differences with Gary…and…and… that’s it! At the end I was left wondering what I had just seen! A coming of age film with two newcomers trying to dazzle and succeeding to just a fraction of what they hoped for?The film is fashionably unfocussed, littered with a languorous light that brightens up some of the less whimsical episodes. But most of this is just idol worship. Like Boogie Nights without the penises or There Will Be Blood without the oil.
Without beating around the bush, let’s get to the brass-tacks. Steven Spielberg’s Westside Story is a completely unnecessary remake of Robert Wise’s 1961 ebullien musical feature film .There is nothing Wise about Spielberg’s remake which is as flat as a pancake and as listless as an apple-pie left to wither in the sun. The actors are an energetic lot, no doubt about it. But nothing compared with what Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer brought to the screen in the original. Their replacements Ansel Elgort and RachelZiegler are zestful and zingy. But at best adequate substitutes. They create no magic whatsoever on screen.
Why would anyone of Spielberg’s stature do this to himself?I can see the challenge in it for Spielberg: take the clichéd Romeo-Juliet story(there’s a firescape sequence echoing the balcony scene in Shakespeare) and turn it into his own kind of magic.Sadly the outcome is more tragic than magic. We are left looking at Puerto Rican boys and girl dancing and singing to challenge the ‘Gringos’: that’s what the local American youngsters are called. The two sides fight and dance and sing and behave like what they are: wastrels with wasps in their waists and a rumble in their bellies.Some of the choreography that is original us exciting. Those adapted from the original are casualties of excessive freedom.
None of the cast is anywhere close to echoing the unstoppable energy of the original.Puerto Rican Maria and American Tony meet at party.It is, you guessed, love at first sight. From these bland beginnings it’s downhill for the storytelling which flirts with flimsiness with the enthusiasm of a young teenaged girl trying to get the attention of a local hoodlum by wearing her mother’s high heels and lipsick.
The romance grows not so much out of their mutual affection as the classic music score by Leonard Bernstein which bursts at the seams to make its presence felt, because the songs are not accompanied by any convincing choreography.The actors take to the ethnic milieu shimmering with a flamboyant zest which at best is applicable to the milieu they occupy so insolently. By the time the singing and dancing stops for a tragic ending this remake of a film that was adapted from the stage , has run completely out of steam.
Straightaway, Sian Heder’s Coda is a not-be-missed heartwarmer, so rich in authentic emotions it feels and smells like freshly plucked apples from the tree of life. Coda is the story of a deaf family,and their daughter who is not aurally impaired and who wants to pursue a career in music.Sanjay Leela Bhansali got there 25 years ago in Khamoshi The Musical. Remember the glorious Manisha Koirala as Annie trying to live up to her deaf parents’ Nana Patekar and Seema Biswas’ expectations ? Remember her singing Yeh dil sun raha hai while her parents stare mutely wondering how well their daughter sings.
Coda is no less an emotional experience.Emilia Jones as the physically normal daughter of her family of deaf parents and brother(the brother died young in Khamoshi) is devastatingly enchanting. As Ruby, Emilia Jones nails the suppressed desires of a daughter riddled with guilt for being physically normal. In fact there is a heartbreaking sequence in Coda(acronym for ‘childrens of deaf adults’) where Ruby’s mother Jackie(the lovely Marlee Matlin who aeons ago made a grand impact as deaf-mute in The Children Of Lesser God) confesses to Ruby that she had actually hoped Ruby would be deaf like the rest of the family when she was born.
Amazingly this emotionally-shattering confessional sequence between mother and daughter ends with a giggle rather a sob. There is no room for selfpity or wound-licking in this brave and beautiful story with rousing edifying performances by all.
Of course, Emilia Jones is a revelation. But is she as good as Manisha Koirala in Khamoshi? Wait, am I being biased here? No two ways about Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur being superior to Nana Patekar and Seema Biswas in the earlier classic.And with reason: Matlin and Kotsur are deaf in real life. This opens up a debate on whether only the physically impaired should play such roles.
Not that I am complaining. Coda leaves no room for quibble. From the way the director officiates unobtrusively over the domestic squabbles to the scenes in the school choir where a passionate music teacher(Euginio Derbez) prods Ruby into a career in music, everything is pitch-perfect here.By the time Emilia Jones’ Ruby is on stage singing Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now in that angelic voice, her fate is sealed. So is the film’s.