For all her life, Alex has been in limbo between two worlds. As a CODA — a Child of Deaf Adults — she has grown up with two parents who cannot hear.
The division within her has affected all parts of her life, including her performance in her school’s dance program, where she hopes to emerge as a choreography.
Then she meets Josh, a charming, handsome and kind drummer who is deaf. Alex falls for Josh and pretends to be deaf to fit into his world more easily. But when Josh finds out the truth, Alex is forced to grapple with and unify the two disparate parts of her life and her self.
Writer-director Erika Davis-Marsh’s compelling, poignant drama captures a perspective and community that rarely gets much screentime. Combining aspects of family drama, dance and romance, it combines beautifully observant writing with rich, intimate camerawork and strong performances to deliver a portrait of a woman trying to find her place in the world.
The storyline toggles between scenes from Alex’s childhood and her present, making connections between being a CODA and her current journey to find a place she belongs, whether it’s romantically with someone else or in her creative practice. But Alex finds it difficult to integrate her experiences: she’s different in the hearing world because she has deaf parents, but she doesn’t quite fit in the deaf world either because her ability to hear sets her apart.
Seeing her incorporate American Sign Language into the movements of her choreography to tell her own story forms the core of the film’s heartwarming final sequence.