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‘Coda’ is a small movie that hits all the right notes

Emilia Jones and Eugenio Derbez in ‘Coda,’ which premieres on Apple TV+.”If I was blind, would you want to paint?” her mother asks.That’s just one of the many lines in “Coda” that resonate beyond a first viewing, such as Ruby recalling that she “talked funny” when she started school, lacking speaking models at home, and has had to deal with people mocking her family, noting, “They can’t hear it, but I can.”Like another recent indie film, “Sound of Metal,” “Coda” also makes brilliant use of sound, including the lack thereof, to illustrate the hurdles associated with being deaf in a hearing world. Perhaps most impressively, the film fleshes out all of the characters, even the cute classmate (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who prompts Ruby to try out for choir rather impulsively in the first place. (A scene where Ruby’s dad interrogates the lad, much to her chagrin, is among the comedic highlights.)What could feel cliched at various turns deftly avoids that, capturing Ruby’s plight in a way that recalls any number of coming-of-age stories while still feeling unexpectedly fresh and distinctive. There have been a number of first-rate movies about teenage girls in the last few years, but few that were better.

Granted, there’s a fairly long history of festival darlings that don’t shine as brightly once exposed to the harsh light of day. “Coda,” on the other hand, deserves all the applause — or any of the signs used to express approval — that has come its way.

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