‘Coda’ Ending Explained: Why The Ending Of The Film Is So Important


CODA scored big at this year’s Oscars ceremony.  Writer-director Siân Heder picked up the award for Best Adapted Screenplay, Troy Kotsur became the first Deaf actor to take home the award for Best Supporting Actor, and the film itself was given the Best Picture accolade!

These weren’t the only awards CODA received, as BAFTA, the Screen Actors Guild, and the Writers Guild of America also gave the film a lot of award recognition.

If you have seen the film, you will understand why it has been so warmly received. In this article, we will explain a little about the film and the importance of its conclusion.

What is CODA about?

CODA (an acronym for Child Of Deaf Parents) follows the story of Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones), the only hearing member of a deaf family. She is torn between pursuing her dreams of becoming a singer and supporting her father Frank (Troy Kotsur) and brother Leo (Daniel Durant) with their fishing business. The film follows this conflict of interests as it charts the rollercoaster of emotions that Ruby goes through when deciding what is best for her future.

Why shouldn’t Ruby follow her dreams?

If life was simple, we would all be able to follow our dreams. But as most of us know, there is usually something that gets in the way of our hoped-for futures.

For Ruby, the biggest obstacle is her family. She loves Frank, Leo, and her mother Jackie (Marlee Matlin), and they love her in return. But as her family need her to stick around to help with the fishing business, they oppose her dreams of becoming a singer.

As Ruby is the only hearing person in the family, they need her to communicate on their behalf. She is able to act as an interpreter for her father and brother when they need to impart information relating to their business, and she is able to use sign language when communicating back what others are saying to them.

Without Ruby, there is the very real chance that the family business could fall apart. And as fishing is their sole source of income, it’s understandable that the family don’t want Ruby to go to college to follow her passions.

Is Ruby happy to postpone her dreams?

Not really! But she realises she needs to stick around following an argument that she has with her family.

After her parents dismiss her passion, Ruby gets into a fight with them. She then decides not to join Frank and Leo on a fishing expedition the next day. Unfortunately, this is also the day that a sea monitor decides to join their boat to assess their capability on the waters. The day does not go well, partly because the sea monitor has no idea that Frank and Leo are hard of hearing. This leads to legal trouble for the two men and the local federation removes their license to fish. They also impose a harsh fine, which the family have no way of paying.

The only way for the family to continue their business is if they have a hearing person aboard their vessel. If they can accommodate this, the federation will give them permission to fish again.

It’s because of this that Ruby decides to give up her dream to be there for her family.

Is this the end of Ruby’s dream?

Thankfully no! Life on the open sea is not the life Ruby really wants and her family are able to understand this as the film draws to a conclusion.

Ruby performs at the Annual Fall Concert and her parents attend. They can’t hear her of course, so they spend most of her performance discussing groceries. But while they don’t appreciate her talents at the event, Frank does a little later on when he puts his hand on Ruby’s neck and feels the vibrations from her singing. The intensity of these causes him to realise how important singing is for his daughter and he begins to support her dreams.

What happens at the end of the movie

At the climax of the film, Ruby auditions for a place at Berklee and her parents discreetly turn up to support her. After a faltering start, she gives the performance of her life after noticing her parents sitting in the balcony of the audition hall. Not only does she sing her song but she uses sign language to communicate it to her parents too. This is a beautiful moment that is bound to make you cry.

Ruby is a hit and she later finds out she has been accepted into Berklee.

At the end of the film, there is a montage of scenes as we see the family finding ways to communicate with the local community without Ruby’s help.

It’s then time for an emotional goodbye scene as Ruby finally departs for college. She hugs her parents and is told “go” by her accepting father, the first time we hear him speak throughout the whole movie. After one last hug, she drives off, stopping only to sign “I love you” before making her way to college.

Why the ending of CODA is so important

While staying behind to help her family seemed to be the best course of action for Ruby, it was only right that she followed her dreams.

There are times when we do have to put the needs of our families before our own, but in some circumstances, this can lead to a co-dependent relationship, which is not healthy for anybody. Such was the case for the Rossi family, who were overly reliant on Ruby. This caused problems for her as she was prevented from following her passions and it caused issues for her parents who weren’t given the opportunity to find ways to help themselves.

By following her dreams, Ruby was finally able to break free of this unhealthy relationship. It also gave her parents the opportunity to adapt to life without her.

In preparation for Ruby’s absence, they finally start to become more trusting of the local community. This gave them the incentive to find ways to communicate with others, without the need for Ruby to interpret for them.

In the end, the film ended happily. Ruby and her parents were given the opportunity to grow as people, while still maintaining the strong sense of love that they had for one another.

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